The Brilliance of Michael Behe

There must have been at least a dozen posts during the past couple of months about Michael Behe at the Discovery Institute’s creationist blog. It appears that they’re trying to build him up to being the Grand Old Man of creation science. That’s a difficult task, even if they write a thousand posts about him. We’ve been ignoring their effort because none of it is amusing — just pathetic.

Behe, a Discovery Institute Senior Fellow, is a professor of biochemistry at Lehigh University. He has tenure, so he’s never been Expelled. His colleagues at Lehigh are so impressed by his brilliance that they publicly disassociated themselves from him by issuing this statement: Department Position on Evolution and “Intelligent Design”. Also, as most of you know, he was the Discoveroids’ star witness in Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District. We wrote about his catastrophic appearance there in Michael Behe’s Testimony.

Although we’ve been ignoring the Discoveroids’ attempt to canonize Behe, we can’t overlook their latest effort: Best of Behe: Design for Living, written by Behe himself. It’s a repeat of something he wrote long ago that appeared in the New York Times back in 07 February 2005 — before the Kitzmiller trial. Those were the glory days of the Discovery Institute. Their movement was new, and it had not yet experienced what became an unbroken record of courtroom losses and academic setbacks. They imagined that with their wedge strategy, they were on the threshold of revolutionizing science with their nonsensical version of Oogity Boogity.

Behe’s article begins with an introductory editor’s note, which says:

In celebration of the 20th anniversary of biochemist Michael Behe’s pathbreaking book Darwin’s Black Box [link omitted] and the release of the new documentary Revolutionary: Michael Behe and the Mystery of Molecular Machines [link omitted], we are highlighting some of Behe’s “greatest hits.”

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! Here are some excerpts from Behe’s long-ago appearance in the Times, with bold font added by us for emphasis:

As one of the scientists who have proposed design as an explanation for biological systems, I have found widespread confusion about what intelligent design is and what it is not. First, what it isn’t: the theory of intelligent design is not a religiously based idea, even though devout people opposed to the teaching of evolution cite it in their arguments.

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! Then he says:

Rather, the contemporary argument for intelligent design is based on physical evidence and a straightforward application of logic. The argument for it consists of four linked claims. The first claim is uncontroversial: we can often recognize the effects of design in nature. For example, unintelligent physical forces like plate tectonics and erosion seem quite sufficient to account for the origin of the Rocky Mountains. Yet they are not enough to explain Mount Rushmore.

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! See Mt. Rushmore Is Designed, Therefore …. After that he tells us:

Which leads to the second claim of the intelligent design argument: the physical marks of design are visible in aspects of biology. This is uncontroversial, too. The 18th-century clergyman William Paley likened living things to a watch, arguing that the workings of both point to intelligent design. Modern Darwinists disagree with Paley that the perceived design is real, but they do agree that life overwhelms us with the appearance of design.

[…]

The resemblance of parts of life to engineered mechanisms like a watch is enormously stronger than what Reverend Paley imagined. In the past 50 years modern science has shown that the cell, the very foundation of life, is run by machines made of molecules. There are little molecular trucks in the cell to ferry supplies, little outboard motors to push a cell through liquid.

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! Paley ‘s watchmaker analogy. Behe continues:

The next claim in the argument for design is that we have no good explanation for the foundation of life that doesn’t involve intelligence.

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! It’s the God of the gaps. Let’s read on:

The fourth claim in the design argument is also controversial: in the absence of any convincing non-design explanation, we are justified in thinking that real intelligent design was involved in life. … The strong appearance of design allows a disarmingly simple argument: if it looks, walks and quacks like a duck, then, absent compelling evidence to the contrary, we have warrant to conclude it’s a duck. Design should not be overlooked simply because it’s so obvious.

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! The Discoveroids’ “theory” is automatically true by default, and although they have zero evidence for their designer’s existence, the rest of the world has the burden of proving that they’re wrong.

In Behe’s final paragraph, he appeals to public opinion:

[W]hatever special restrictions scientists adopt for themselves don’t bind the public, which polls show, overwhelmingly, and sensibly, thinks that life was designed. And so do many scientists [Hee hee!] who see roles for both the messiness of evolution and the elegance of design.

Yeah. Scientists may limit themselves by following the Scientific method, which demands evidence, testing, and falsifiability, but the Discoveroids are far above that sort of thing.

So there you have it — a flashback from Behe. And in case you haven’t noticed, his “science” argument hasn’t improved since then.

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

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52 responses to “The Brilliance of Michael Behe

  1. “The first claim is uncontroversial”
    Grand Old Designer of the Gaps.

    “the second claim of the intelligent design”
    Paley’s False Watchmaker’s Analogy.

    “The next claim in the argument for design ”
    is the same as the first one.

    “in the absence of any convincing non-design explanation”
    Ah – something original. This is a combination of the Grand Old Designer of the Gaps with Evolution Can’t Be True.

    MNb’s conclusion: creacrap all the way.

  2. Michael Behe – the man who would be happy to accomodate astrology into science??
    Has he ever recanted that statement?

  3. HansW, Larry Moran over at Sandwalk defended Behe’s statement on astrology. Dr. Moran took the time to understand the context of the statement. You should do the same.

  4. michaelfugate

    ID – bad science, bad philosophy, bad theology.

  5. The analogy of the sculptures on Mount Rushmore being designed is used to tell us that the trees and mountain goats on Mount Rushmore are also designed.
    If one thinks about that, it is telling us that those sculptures might have just grown, just another natural feature of the landscape. (BTW, those mountain goats were introduced from outside by.accident.)

  6. michaelfugate

    and how are the faces of Mt Rushmore any more or less designed than a spider web, a caddis fly tube, a bird nest?

  7. [W]hatever special restrictions scientists adopt for themselves don’t bind the public, which polls show, overwhelmingly, and sensibly, thinks that life was designed. And so do many scientists [Hee hee!] who see roles for both the messiness of evolution and the elegance of design.

    (1) So because most of the public believes life was designed (assuming this claim is true), it was designed? There was a time when most of the public believed the world was flat, too.
    (2) Which scientists see roles for both evolution and design? Competent scientists don’t have much truck with design, except as a metaphor, while ID advocates who call themselves scientists wave crosses, garlic and holy water at the very idea of evolution.

  8. “Doubtless many will reply that they can more easily conceive ten millions of special creations to have taken place, than they can conceive that ten millions of varieties have been produced by the process of perpetual modification. All such, however, will find, on candid inquiry, that they are under an illusion. This is one of the many cases in which men do not really believe, but rather believe they believe. It is not that they can truly conceive ten millions of special creations to have taken place, but that they think they can do so. A little careful introspection will show them that they have never yet realized to themselves the creation of even one species.”

    Herbert Spenser, “The Development Hypothesis” (1852) (see wikisource.org)

  9. Behe re: Kev-D-minus.

    Well, when you see old Kev-0 you know [edited out] is being excreted and this case is no different. First of all, Larry Moran says all sorts of things, some reasonable, some questionable but he certainly didn’t defend Behe on astrology. Behe is clear – under Behe’s personal definition of science which is held by nobody except creationists, yes, astrology with its preconceived notions of effect is the same as ID. As for being scientific in the modern sense, NO!

    Astrology was never science nor a science precursor. Astrology began with a preconceived notion that the stars affected the lives of men, and worked backwards to prove it. ID, too, has a preconceived notion of design in nature and works backwards to prove it, but, like astrology can’t.

    Behe whines about not being an historian of science but it only takes a single college course in the subject to put both astrology and ID into the trash can as anti-science, non-science, pseudo-science and outright [edited out]!

  10. docbill, my point has been made: Behe does not want to accommodate astrology into science. That now seems to be clear to everyone but you. No need for further damage control. For those of you who still believe the old canard, you can read Moran’s defense of Behe for yourselves.

    Oh by the way, doc, the folks at the LHC heard about your indispensable work as a mathematician on the SETI project and want to make you part of their team. hahahahaha!!

  11. Kevin C, better still: read the transcript of the Dover-Kitzmiller trial. Behe admitted nolens volens that according his definition of science astrology also qualifies. If Moran defends Behe then it’s simply too bad for Moran.

  12. Kev-D-Minus, the point you made is mostly on the top of your head. From the very link you provided are Behe’s words exactly from the Kitzmiller transcript. (Oh, those were fun days reading the transcripts hot off the press with wonderful reporting by Lauri Lebo – great times!):

    Q But you are clear, under your definition, the definition that sweeps in intelligent design, astrology is also a scientific theory, correct?

    A Yes, that’s correct. (followed by Behe describing his personal definition of “theory” which is, in short, crackpottery)

    Astrologers of old were mystics, seers and augurs. Each one had their own personal method for divining the heavens. None of this was done even remotely scientifically – it was all made-up nonsense.

    Same with ID being made up nonsense. Even the ID mystics each have their own method: Dembski, the Nixplanatory Filter; Behe, irreducible complexity; Meyer, CSI and FCSI. All of the terms used by ID mystics are vague, have no metrics, cannot be either measured nor calculated, have never been applied to a designed object, an undesigned object or a biological system.

    So, in that sense ID and Astrology are exactly the same: nonsense.

    Moran’s only point, and it’s dubious IMHO at best, is that ID, like ESP, ghosts, water divining, telekinesis, effectiveness of prayer etc, can be studied by applying the scientific method, and, in fact, that has been done. And nothing has been found. In each case, however, what we have is a preconceived notion, rather than an actual observation. You can believe all you want that the Tooth Fairy will give you money, but a scientific study into the transmutation of dental material into lucre would be, in the words of Behe, himself, describing why he has not done any research into ID, fruitless.

  13. Nice try, bill but you missed the mark again. Tell me genius, the standard for judging Moran right or wrong is whether he agrees or disagrees with the Curmudgeonites?

    You didn’t mention the LHC offer. So are you gonna take the job there renaissance man? Member of the SETI Project team!! ROFL

  14. KevinC – There is a presupposition in science that doesn’t allow for supernatural explanations for observed phenomena. It’s called methodological naturalism (MN). ID doesn’t like it. Maarten Boudry, a Belgian philosopher, argues for provisional methodological naturalism (pMN), which allows science to study alleged supernatural phenomena using the scientific method. Other commentators have listed intercessory prayer, ESP, water divination. All these studies have either falsified the claim or come up with a natural cause.

    Behe insists on his ‘irreducible complexity’, but he has been shown wrong again and again by science having identified a natural pathway leading to those ‘irreducible complex’ structures or pathways. Nothing stops you from believing that natural causes also have a supernatural origin. But the old god-of-the-gaps argument is not helpful.

  15. KevinC said: “Larry Moran over at Sandwalk defended Behe’s statement on astrology. Dr. Moran took the time to understand the context of the statement. You should do the same.”
    Larry Moran, to his credit in my opinion, has a very generous attitude regarding which questions should be regarded as scientific. Astrology in the middle ages (not the degraded garbage which underpins tabloid daily “horoscopes”), made relatively reasonable predictions of earthly events based on astrological events, with the caveat that the observations had to be as accurate as possible, lest the predictions be also inaccurate. As a hypothesis, this could have been true, but repeated testing showed it to be false. It has the status of a scientific hypothesis falsified by observation. Much like the hypothesis of supernatural origin of adaptation and speciation, aka “intelligent design”.

  16. @docbill1351
    I see that you responded to KevinC before I did, but I respectfully disagree with you. However you acquire a hypothesis, even in a dream or by pulling it from where the sun don’t shine or from your favourite holy book, if it makes falsifiable predictions based on observation, it is subject to scientific testing and is therefore a scientific hypothesis. If, given our current state of knowledge, it can be for all practical purposes dismissed out of hand, it is bad science, but bad science is science.

  17. @KevinC: “Nice try, bill but you missed the mark again. Tell me genius, the standard for judging Moran right or wrong is whether he agrees or disagrees with the Curmudgeonites? ”

    I am really glad that our benign overlord stayed his mighty hand and continued to permit your comments, which have greatly improved from your original offerings.
    You should count me among the Curmudgeonites, but, as I see it, our commitment is to truth and to the Enlightenment. This involves free discussion, and so long as you offer substantive, even minimally substantive, comments, rather than the utter nonsense and simple invective that other creationists produce, I hope that SC will continue to welcome you here.

  18. michaelfugate

    It is difficult to distinguish the hand of intelligence from the hand of non-intelligence. Is the spider web the hand of intelligence once-removed? If so then, evolution could be just as easily the result of intelligence as is the DI’s version. What the DI really espouses is that humans aren’t animals and we arose through special creation to be, well, special. That is not an unlikely option.

  19. One of the difficulties in ascribing something to “intelligent design” is that its advocates are using it as an alternative to evolution. But design per se does not account for the existence of something. The production of something may have been guided by a plan, but there must be so work be done on some substance for there to be a result.
    A theist may believe that all things are created by God, but that does not tell us why things turn out the ways that they do. Evolution – even if one denies that it is the correct explanation – offers a reason for the results. Creation and evolution are not competing concepts. Intelligent design is a would-be concept which has no use.

  20. Apologies that I haven’t read the comments yet (I see TomS so there must be some good ones), but I must get in a comment. Lately I have very little time to be on these boards.

    What a difference a decade makes. After Dover many fellow critics thought the DI would “expel” Behe. After all, not only did he embarrass them at Dover, particularly admitting the similarity of ID to astrology and – gasp – admitting that the designer could be dead, he as all along admitted ~4 billion years of common descent. IOW he has done more damage to the “big tent” than all of his critics combined! Particularly thumbing his nose to YECs and OECs who deny common descent, while, with the help and “blessing” of the DI, diverting attention from that by getting everyone to take the bait on “ID is not religious” and “ID is not creationism.”

    I think it’s long overdue for a Michael Behe – Ken Ham debate. Maybe Mike Pence can moderate.

  21. Frank J suggests

    it’s long overdue for a Michael Behe – Ken Ham debate. Maybe Mike Pence can moderate.

    Even without such a debate (which would be splendid), you win a prize for the well-nigh impossible task of putting the words “Mike Pence” and “moderate” in the same sentence. 🙂

  22. jimroberts>”Astrology in the middle ages (not the degraded garbage which underpins tabloid daily “horoscopes”), made relatively reasonable predictions…

    Same goes for creationism. When the OT was written, a ~6 day ~2000 – years ago origin was a reasonable hypothesis given the scant evidence and scientific tools of the time. But both creationism and astrology degenerated instead of progressed, and eventually, became full-blown pseudoscience – something that, like tabloid “news” is sold instead of explained. And something that sells because it feeds the wishful thinking of the “buyers.”

    I don’t know enough about astrology to know if there’s a “party line” that all “true believers” agree on, but as you probably know, creationism has nothing other than “some designer did something at some time, and evolution is dead, dying, falsified and unfalsifiable.” The mid-20th century attempt to concoct a compromise of “heliocentric YEC” failed miserably to unite anti-evolution activists (though it became the “fittest meme” in the media, first with Morris & Gish, now with Ken Ham). So, as I often say, even had the YECs won Edwards v. Aguillard, we’d have something like ID now, particular it’s “don’t ask, don’t tell what happened when, just promote unreasonable doubt of evolution” scam.

  23. jimroberts, thank you for the vote of confidence. You seem like someone with whom I could have a substantive, productive discussion. On the other hand, others like docbill (who is the epitome of utter nonsense and simple invective; see his droppings over at Smilodon’s Retreat where there are no standards) and Frank J (who betrays a profound ignorance of what the DI stands for, thinking they would “expel” Behe) seem incapable of anything approaching substance.

  24. Wandering back to the original story, Behe claims that:

    The next claim in the argument for design is that we have no good explanation for the foundation of life that doesn’t involve intelligence.

    Scientists do have a good explanation, i.e. life arose and developed naturally.

    Let’s compare the two – first of all, science cannot yet explain how life arose. Neither can ID creationists explain how life was created. Although neither science nor creationism can explain how life began, we have evidence that laws of nature work – but zero evidence for the alternative supernatural mechanism. Advantage, science.

    While the “how” of life’s origin is still unknown to either scientists (who, to be fair, have some good ideas and are working on the problem) or creationists (who have no ideas), scientists can put boundaries on the date that it happened – based on evidence. On the other hand, ID creationists vary on when they believe life originated; some adopt the scientific time-frame, while others pick arbitrary points in time to fit their particular beliefs. There is no agreed-to evidence-based point in time at which creationists believe it happened. For example, the Cambrian “explosion” is popular for some ID creationists who ignore all the evidence of life evolving in the pre-Cambrian. This appears to me to be the DI’s view. On this issue, science grounded in evidence from many disciplines, provides the only supportable answer to this question. Advantage, science.

    Everyone, scientists and creationists alike, agree that life is complex. Scientists have worked out a natural explanation as to how the complexity arose. Whether true or not, the theory provides a process, within the laws of nature, to explain all of the known evidence. By contrast, creationists cannot explain how any of the observed complexity in nature arose. The “explanation” that complexity cannot be due to natural processes is only an opinion, or as Behe would define it, an “inference.” (Based, in Behe’s case, on incredulity.) Neither ID creationists nor any of the other varieties of creationists have offered any disproof of the scientific explanation for the “foundation of life.” Once again: Advantage, science.

    In conclusion, Behe’s assertion that there is no good explanation for the “foundation of life” that doesn’t involve intelligence is pure bulls**t.

  25. Does Behe offer a good explanation for the foundation of life which does not involve natural processes?
    Does anyone offer an explanation for something natural which does not involve natural processes?

  26. michaelfugate

    What evidence KevinC has ever presented in support of ID? I can’t remember any.

  27. @KevinC: “jimroberts, thank you for the vote of confidence.”
    Please don’t overvalue my support. I welcome the presence of dissenting voices in these threads, and I do think sometimes we are too casually dismissive of dissenting comments. This does not mean that I agree with your views, or am ever likely to.

  28. I think the difference between creationist and rational views of life is that creationists think of life as something magical and separate from, but able the influence, the material of which a living thing is composed.
    When we closely examine any living thing, we find chemistry. Very complex chemistry, but no magic, just chemistry. So if I tried to research the origin of life, I would look whether rather complex chemistry can arise out of very simple chemistry. So far as I know, that does happen. There is still a huge gap between rather complex and enormously complex. Trying to trace backwards hasn’t helped: as far back as it is possible to reconstruct, we don’t find it any simpler.
    Was it oogity-boogity, or will clever people find viable routes through the complexity? If only there was some way to know which way to bet!

  29. Don’t worry, jimroberts, I don’t expect to be singing Kumbaya with you any time soon. In fact, I’m as convinced of my position as you are of yours so it’s unlikely we’ll find much common ground. Behe has shown quite convincingly that Darwinian evolution is completely incapable of creating anything remotely meaningful in the cell. You can have your antibiotic resistance and Lenski’s citrate metabolism. I’ll even throw in sickle cell anemia for good measure for you.

    As long as your side has only fairy tales to explain away the rise of biochemistry such as this (which the Curmudgeon chose not share with his dear readers) or as you call it “very complex chemistry”, I’m justified in believing that only intelligence is capable of such life processes. Cheers

  30. @michaelfugate
    What description of ID has anyone ever offered? It is premature to speak of evidence, when all that we have is a noun phrase, with the claim that, what ever it is, it isn’t a natural process like evolution. Is it even meaningful, and if it is meaningful, is it different from a natural process?

  31. No one denies that the biochemistry of a cell or the physiology of a human is mind-boggling complex. I teach this stuff, and it is truly awesome – from protein translation to the immune system to muscle contraction, elegance of form and function can be seen everywhere. However, as TomS and many others have noted, ID offers nothing with regard to advancing our understanding of how things came to be. “It’s the product of intelligent design” will remain a vacuous mantra until there are data that indicate how the intelligent designer built the first cell or any of the other purportedly irreducibly complex cellular structures. At least the myriad creation myths found in nearly all cultures and religions provide some details of how an intelligent designer pulled it off.

  32. Not really anonymous – WordPress was persnickety.

  33. michaelfugate

    Behe has shown quite convincingly that Darwinian evolution is completely incapable of creating anything remotely meaningful in the cell.

    He has? I believe that is news to everyone else on the planet. Where is this secret hidden – the Bible Code?

  34. michaelfugate

    Let me also add that even if Behe had shown the inadequacy of natural selection (which of course he hasn’t), then it still wouldn’t be evidence for ID.

  35. “will remain a vacuous mantra until there are data that indicate how the intelligent designer built the first cell or any of the other purportedly irreducibly complex cellular structures.”
    Unless you’re SETI in which case those kinds of data aren’t necessary for the detection of intelligence. Right, Douglas E?

  36. The Discovery Institute has Ann Gauger checking to see if we all actually did come from Adam and Eve, but evolution is a fairy tale?

  37. KevinC: re this

    Highly evolved structures such as ribosomes are not part of the problem of abiogensis.

  38. Does the DI really believe the first replicator was as complex as a modern cell? That the tornado + junkyard = 747 is an accurate accounting? This is their reality?

  39. Does the DI really believe the first replicator was as complex as a modern cell? That the tornado + junkyard = 747 is an accurate accounting? This is their reality?

    That’s pretty much it in a nutshell. Like the old astrologers each of the IDiots has their own thing. Meyer, the least qualified in his chosen field – Cambrian paleontology – completely discounts 4 billion years of chemistry prior to his beloved “explosion,” or the documented biota in the Pre-Cambrian and earlier eras. It’s instructive in a sad way to compare Meyer’s “Doubt” with an actual textbook on the subject, eg Valentine, to appreciate how much Meyer leaves out or just flat out lies about. Not shocking, just sad. Charles Marshall referred to “Doubt” as a “systematic failure of scholarship.”

    None of the Tooters have taken on OOL research and it’s not surprising. Behe is probably the most experienced chemist the Tooters have and he’s been mute on the subject. The dearly departed Attack Gerbil, Luskin, took a stab at some work done by Leslie Orgel on the evolution of cyclic reactions but ended up cutting himself, instead, by quote mining Orgel on a discussion thread with actual scientists. Luskin soon flounced.

  40. If we are to allow all of the claims of the anti-evolutionists about the Cambrian Explosion, what do they have substantive and positive to say about the variety of life? Evolutionary biology, so it seems, has been working as described for the last half billion years without any difficulties. There was only something else, so the claim goes, involved for early billions, but stopped being significant after its last gasp at the Cambrian Explosion. What that something else was, nobody knows. Why it stopped working, nobody is even talking about.
    Would they be satisfied if K-12 grades were to restrict their lessons on evolutionary biology to the undoubted history of life of the last 500 million years? There would be a lot of interesting things to talk about: the rise of the mammals, the human migrations from Africa, dinosaurs to birds, mass extinctions – how all of those make a coherent explanation of the way things have turned out as they are.

  41. KevinC – maybe Seth Shostak can clear it up for you:

    http://www.space.com/1826-seti-intelligent-design.html

  42. Thanks, DE. I’ll check it out.

  43. docbill1351 says,

    “Behe whines about not being an historian of science but it only takes a single college course in the subject to put both astrology and ID into the trash can as anti-science, non-science, pseudo-science and outright [edited out]!”

    Epistemology is complicated. A single college course could teach you many things about science and how to define it. I’m pretty sure that some of those courses would be worthless and others would be valuable exercises in critical thinking.

    The most important point in good courses would be to emphasize that there are no universally agreed upon definitions of “science.” The best you can hope for in a discussion is to propose a reasonable definition then make sure your argument follows logically from that definition.

    One of the best reference books is “Philosophy of Pseudoscience” edited by Massimo Pigliucci and Maarten Boudry (2013). There are 23 chapters written by a variety of different philosophers and scientists. If you were to take a course based on this you would soon find there are conflicting definitions of “science.” Some of them admit astrology as science, even though it’s bad science. Some of them concede that much of ID is science, but it’s a bad example of science.

    The definition I prefer, and defend, is described by Sven Ove Hannson on pages 63-64. He says,

    “Unfortunately, neither “science” nor any other established term in the English language covers all the disciplines that are part of this community of knowledge disciplines. For lack of a better term, I will call them “science(s) in the broad sense.” (The German word ‘Wissenshaft,’ the closest translation of “science” into that language, has this wider meaning; that is, it includes all the academic specialties, including the humanities. So does the Latin ‘scientia.’) Science in the broad sense seeks knowledge about nature (natural science), about ourselves (psychology and medicine), about our societies (social science and history), about our physical constructions (technological science), and about our thought constructions (linguistics, literary studies, mathematics, and philosophy). (Philosophy, of course, is a science in this broad sense of the word …)”

    If you are going to have a debate about what is, and what is not, science then you have to agree on a definition. It makes no sense to apply your own personal opinion about the definition of science to the conclusion of someone who is making a logical inference based on a very different definition. That’s the sort of thing you might expect to learn in a good university course on logic.

    I think Intelligent Design Creationism seeks knowledge about the nature of the universe and it uses the same procedures that we all use if we are operating under the broad definition. I think it counts as science. However, their facts are either wrong or incomplete and their use of logic leaves a lot to be desired. Thus, in practice, it is bad science.

    They aren’t alone. Many practicing scientists make the same mistakes. Some of them are evolutionary biologists. Just because they’re doing bad science and reaching incorrect conclusions doesn’t mean they aren’t doing science.

    You may disagree about whether ID (or astrology) is/was an example of science but your argument will usually depend on a different definition of “science.” That’s fine … just make it clear that’s where you disagree.

  44. Laurence A. Moran, one can play with definitions all day. You may do it honorably, and that’s fine when speaking with people who are like-minded. But creationists don’t play fair. For example, you probably know they claim that atheism is a religion, because one of the dictionary definitions of religion is “a cause, principle, or system of beliefs held to with ardor and faith.”

  45. michaelfugate

    Yes SC, and they often switch definitions from one sentence to the next. Most of what they do is rhetoric and apologetics and very little is science.

  46. I will certainly not cross swords with Larry Moran, but just in case, I’m O-pos.

    However, in my best Black Knight impression, here goes.

    Larry wrote:

    I think Intelligent Design Creationism seeks knowledge about the nature of the universe and it uses the same procedures that we all use if we are operating under the broad definition. I think it counts as science. However, their facts are either wrong or incomplete and their use of logic leaves a lot to be desired. Thus, in practice, it is bad science.

    Even if one wished to be most generous and attribute noble motives to gain knowledge about Nature to ID creationists, one would still find nothing, absolutely nothing, in regards to using the same procedures that we all use if operating under a broad definition of science. As we have discussed on this forum, and over at Sandwalk, ID creationists don’t even have working definitions of the very aspects of creationism the purport to study.

    However, speaking to American ID creationists (and their international sympathizers) the ID movement as perpetrated by the Discovery Institute was developed specifically to ” replace materialistic explanations with the theistic understanding that nature and human beings are created by God.” Their tool to do this was “intelligent design” which they believed could be slipped into public education without Constitutional entanglements. In fact, the Disco Tute has a long, documented history – written history – written by themselves attesting to this. So, with that in mind, ID creationism as promoted by the Discovery Institute is not science at all, but a program of propaganda.

    As for some kind of rigorous framework, Dembski was the only ID promoter who even attempted to quantify “design” or “design detection” and his math was shown to be incorrect, and in the end Dembski, himself, abandoned the Explanatory Filter, first, and finally ID as a whole.

    Behe only focused on trying to prove what evolution can’t do, but by Behe’s logic, if one cannot jump to the Moon then it’s impossible to get to the Moon. Behe is simply wrong, but won’t take wrong for an answer. I think Larry did an exceptional job over at Sandwalk guiding us through Behe’s logic and that if what Behe claimed to be true was the only way Nature worked then evolutionists would have a tough (or impossible) time explaining it away, but Behe was wrong. Nature works via alternative paths, just like one can get to the Moon other than by jumping.

    Meyer uses a term he can’t define, quantify or have any metric for, FCSI, which you might as well call a “framastat,” then claims that nobody can explain where framastats come from, therefore evolution is impossible. Meyer is not even wrong; his notions are completely fictional.

    And that does it for the main IDiot guys. Three, well, two now that Dembski flounced. Forget Meyer, he’s done nothing to advance the notion of ID. The rest of the ID proponents are all focused on attacking evolution – Behe, Sternberg, Annie Green Screen, Minnich, Wells, et al.

    Finally, regarding my remark about Behe’s claim not to be an historian, what I meant to convey is that concepts like the history and philosophy of astrology are covered fairly well in college sophomore level courses on the history and philosophy of science. Astrology, as I recall, was covered in about an hour. I think Behe ducked the question because the short answer is, no, astrology is not science.

  47. @Douglas E, I finally read the Seth Shostak article but I don’t see how you think it would make clear to me why SETI should be able to detect intelligence based only on a radio signal without knowing how said intelligence constructed such a radio-generating device. But, according to you, ID “will remain a vacuous mantra until there are data that indicate how the intelligent designer built the first cell or any of the other purportedly irreducibly complex cellular structures.”

    Care to explain this disconnect? Also, how does a narrow-band radio signal indicate intelligence rather than a signal over a broad segment of the EM spectrum? Thanks

  48. If Seth cannot explain it to you, I certainly can’t.

  49. You can’t explain why you have a double standard?

  50. I cannot explain what I don’t believe that I have; and I have no interest in trying to convince you of anything. You won’t change your perspective, and neither will I.

  51. michaelfugate

    I think radio signals is key – can you figure it out Kevin?