Klinghoffer: Intelligent Design & Oogity Boogity

Promoters of pseudoscience often take comfort from the fact that some new scientific theories may be ridiculed at first, but eventually they become accepted. The classic example is the vicious hostility encountered by Galileo’s theory — which he backed with observational evidence — that the Earth and the other planets orbit the Sun. There are others. A good example is Alfred Wegener and his theory continental drift

Five years ago, Casey invoked Wegener’s theory and predicted that like it, one day the Discoveroids’ “theory” of intelligent design would be accepted, and their brave struggle will be universally praised — see The Discovery Institute and the Ugly Duckling. As we said then:

Alfred Wegener proposed a theory of continental drift in 1912. Alas, he had no supporting evidence — other than the easily observable fact that the continents seem to fit together like the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. Wegener was never regarded as a kook, however. He later provided evidence of similar geological structures and fossils on opposite oceanic coastlines, which supported his hypothesis that the land masses has once been joined; but he needed a mechanism that could cause the continents to move around, and without that his idea didn’t go anywhere. Unfortunately, he died before his hypothesis was accepted in the 1950s, after the discovery of evidence like seafloor spreading and mid-ocean ridges.

Casey’s post was laughable at the time, but what’s even funnier is that the same argument is still being made by the Discoveroids today. Their latest post is How to Think About Minority Science Views — The Case of Plate Tectonics. It was written by David Klinghoffer, a Discoveroid “senior fellow” (i.e., flaming, full-blown creationist), who eagerly functions as their journalistic slasher and poo flinger. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis:

The idea that continents drift is now taken for granted, but it wasn’t always. In fact, when the theory was proposed by Alfred Wegener in 1912, it was mocked, until decades later after Wegener had already died, when the theory was ultimately accepted. The issue was one of mechanism. Wegener couldn’t adequately explain what was driving the continents apart. He did know that the evidence, including the way continents could be pictured as fitting together like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle, indicated strongly that they did so.

Yes, yes, we know all that. Then he says:

If this sounds familiar, it should. The debate about intelligent design is in many ways a replay of the controversy around Wegener’s theory.

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! Let’s read on:

Over the question of a mechanism, one of the more childish Darwin activists calls ID “Oogity Boogity.” [Klinghoffer links to a post by your Curmudgeon: Intelligent Design Has a Mechanism.]

After that, Klinghoffer devotes a few paragraphs to Wegener’s theory and his ultimate vindication. Near the end he says:

Will ID, like Wegener’s theory, win the day against the majority view? And if so, how soon? Of course, that’s impossible to say, partly for reasons that go beyond science.

Reasons beyond science? What are those? Klinghoffer explains:

One distinction between the theories is that the history of the continents and their arrangement has no particular significance for philosophy, whereas the history of life, how biological novelties emerge, obviously does.

Is Klinghoffer admitting that the Discoveroids’ “theory” is really a theological doctrine? He doesn’t quite say it, but it’s certainly implied. He ends his post with this:

In the differing treatments of the ideas, at Wikipedia and elsewhere, that distinction probably makes all the difference.

We respectfully disagree. It’s not merely the way places like Wikipedia arbitrarily treat the subject. The problem is that Intelligent design literally isn’t science at all. The Discoveroids’ founding manifesto, The Wedge Document, makes that quite clear. It states that the goal of the intelligent design movement is to replace science as currently practiced with “theistic and Christian science.”

The Discoveroids’ “theory” will never be accepted. Why? Although Klinghoffer may think this is childish, the reason is that intelligent design is nothing but Oogity Boogity!

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30 responses to “Klinghoffer: Intelligent Design & Oogity Boogity

  1. Michael Fugate

    Over the question of a mechanism, one of the more childish Darwin activists calls ID “Oogity Boogity.”

    Then Klinghoffer proceeds not to produce a mechanism…

    He instead links to Ann Gauger who spends endless amounts of text to say absolutely nothing. If intelligence were doing the changes in the past then intelligence should be doing the changes now. It is not like all the change occurred long ago before humans were watching.

    Not to mention Continental Drift wasn’t an idea that was believed for a time, refuted, and then brought back by religious zealots unlike ID is. ID was refuted philosophically, scientifically, and even theologically over 100 years ago. It is still wrong.

  2. Mark Germano

    “One distinction between the theories is that the history of the continents and their arrangement has no particular significance for philosophy…”

    Another is that plate tectonics is a scientific theory supported by evidence gained through the work of thousands of scientists, technicians, and others, while ID has no particular significance for science.

  3. Mark Germano

    According to the Wedge Document, ID is supposed to “to replace materialistic explanations with the theistic understanding that nature and human beings are created by God.”

    I don’t understand why modern biology needs to be ousted, but modern geology is okay. You’d think the layout of the continents is part of what makes Earth a privileged planet, too.

    Anyway, plate tectonics leads to volcanic eruptions and massive earthquakes. We need to strike the evil doctrine of Wegenerism from our school curriculum!

  4. human beings are created by God
    I want to stress this.
    If human beings are created by God, does this call into question the scientific study of the generation of human beings? The study of the mechanisms of reproduction and development?
    There was a time, around the 18th century mostly, when there was an alternative, scientific, theory: preformationism, which would could be said to say that God did directly generate human beings. (See “preformationism” in Wikipedia.)
    Is this what the creationists and ID-ers want to argue? I don’t think so. They are arguing, I think, that God God creates some abstraction, a population, a species, a genus, a family, a phylum, a kind, life, …
    Or, rather, the creationists and ID-ers are engaging in a logical fallacy, the fallacy of composition or division.

  5. Michael Fugate

    Another thing that refutes ID is that materialistic science works perfectly as an explanation for humans within their environment. Development, Genetics, Physiology, Cell and Molecular Biology, Neuroscience, Reproduction, etc. all work without the “mechanism” of intelligent intervention.

  6. Over the question of a mechanism, one of the more childish Darwin activists calls ID “Oogity Boogity.”

    You know if they actually provided some science maybe Klingon and the Discoveroids would have a point. Until then the childish taunts should persist.

  7. WordPress tells us if we’re getting hits from links elsewhere on the internet, and if so, how many. In case you’re wondering how many hits we got from that link at the Discovery Institute, the answer — so far — is ten. Six last night and four today. Verily, they’re a powerful force.

  8. Klinghoffer: “One distinction between the theories is that the history of the continents and their arrangement has no particular significance for philosophy…

    I beg to differ, Klingy. Without the uplift and volcanism caused by plate collisions, the continents would have been eroded down to sea level long ago. There would be no philosophy, other than that developed by fish. (Not porpoises or other cetaceans — they all evolved from land mammals, which all evolved long after the continents would have been eroded down.)

    Another thought — Wegener had the evidence, but no mechanism. Intelligent design proposes a mechanism (G.O.D. did it), but has no evidence. Big difference.

  9. Michael Fugate

    Even with human intelligence, their only analogy, we know the mechanisms for how humans design and manufacture things. If human intelligence were to make an organism or even a mutation, we would know exactly how they did it and could repeat it.

  10. Does anyone have an example of a “theory” which is purely negative?
    All I can think of is a political revolution. “Down with the king!” Even then, thee is often a suggestion for a replacement.
    But with ID, all we get is a negative advertising campaign.

    Once again, I ask for a guess for what goes on so that life is ordered in the “tree of life”, without mentioning common descent with variation.

  11. Michael Fugate

    Doesn’t Bechly claim common descent, but God is directing it somehow (no when, what, how, why – only who)?

  12. Ross Cameron

    If there is any science behind the theory of Intelligent design, why aren`t believers using it to cure their god-created diseases? Instead they come crawling to use the science behind evolution.

  13. I am more radical. I do not restrict my critique to there being no scientific theory. There is no alternative. No scientific, no historical, no esthetic, no theological, … I will admit that there may be a political negative advertising campaign, but otherwise, nothing.
    I don’t want to get tied up in a philosophical discussion of the “demarcation problem”.

  14. “Whether intelligence, the source of which science can’t presently identify, constitutes a “sufficient force” to instantiate design in nature is a fruitful question to discuss.”

    Oh really? But everyone knows that for the creationists “god” is that “intelligent source”. Why is science having such a hard time identifying a “god”? Could it be because there is actually no evidence that any “god” has actually ever done anything? Reality seems to have a sufficient number of “causes” without having to introduce a “god”.

    Which reminds me of: “A frequently cited but apocryphal interaction between Laplace and Napoleon purportedly concerns the existence of God.” (Wikipedia)

    No, “god did it” is NOT a fruitful question to discuss.

  15. A reason that “God did it” is not an explanation is that God can do anything.
    If you want to know why the grass is green, knowing that God did it doesn’t help, because God could make grass orange just as well.
    A reason that “it is designed” is not an explanation is that even things which don’t exist can be designed. BTW, God does not need to design, so even if we know that it is designed, it doesn’t tell us that God did it.
    And it goes on and on. ID is useless, it is empty.

  16. My favorite argument was offered by a commentor on the Naturalis Historia Blog, who takes YEC arguments more seriously than perhaps their due. Regardless, a commentor calculated the physics behind a 6000 year old earth and movement of the continental plates needed (during the biblical flood). Essentially the earth would have generated so much heat that all would have exploded. The obvious conclusion was that continental drift is incompatible with the existence of a young earth.
    I may have paraphrased some details.

  17. “The debate about intelligent design is in many ways a replay of the controversy around Wegener’s theory.”
    Unfortunately for Klinkleclapper it’s those other ways that are decisive. And he confirms it himself:

    “reasons that go beyond science.
    ie reasons that didn’t apply to Wegener – nor to Galilei.

    “Will ID, like Wegener’s theory, win the day against the majority view? And if so, how soon?”
    As soon as Klinkleclapper do what Wegener and Galilei did (plus their successors) – provide evidence for the means the supposed Intelligent Designer (blessed be Him/Her/It!) uses and the procedures He/She/It follows.

    “In the differing treatments of the ideas, at Wikipedia and elsewhere, that distinction probably makes all the difference.”
    Unlike our dear SC I actually do agree, for the reason he himself points out. That crucial difference is that Klinkleclapper and co, very much unlike Wegener and Galilei, reject the scientific method.

  18. MarkG gets it while MichaelF doesn’t: “We need to strike the evil doctrine of Wegenerism from our school curriculum!”
    Exactly. And superconductivity at relatively high temperatures is more evidence for goddiddid. Like TomS points out: everything is.

    TomS asks: “Does anyone have an example of a “theory” which is purely negative?”
    Yes. Jesusmythicism.
    X is not evidence.
    Y is not evidence.
    Z is not evidence.
    Hence myth.

  19. Thank you @mnbo for this major enhancement for Intelligent Design.
    I would also like to point out that ID resolves the conflict between Quantum Mechanics and General Relativity; the missing Dark Matter and Dark Energy; the disappearance of Jimmy Hoffa and Judge Crater. Why is there a smile on the Mona Lisa …
    But my favorite is the answer to Goldbach’s Conjecture
    Q: Is there an even number greater than 2 which is not the sum of two prime numbers?
    A: There is an Intelligent Design.
    Anyone is being closed-minded who does no accept that answer.

  20. Once again, Pope RSG nails it:

    Another thought — Wegener had the evidence, but no mechanism. Intelligent design proposes a mechanism (G.O.D. did it), but has no evidence. Big difference.

    In other words, you start with evidence, then you propose mechanisms. Science starts with evidence, then looks for the mechanisms that fit the evidence. When you go the other way (“I want things to work THIS way, so let me cherry pick my evidence that fits my desired conclusion.”), you wind up with creationism & the Disco Tute.

  21. Tom S.: “ID is useless, it is empty.”

    Of course it is. ID has never been anything more than a way of dressing up creationism with some sciencey-sounding language, so that the IDCs could sneak it into school science classes through the back door. It was never intended to explain anything, which is good, because it doesn’t.

  22. Michael Fugate

    The problem is that everything is evidence for ID.

  23. MichaelF still doesn’t get it. No, according to IDiots that’s the solution.

  24. Everything is intelligently designed. Including things which never exist, or cannot exist.
    Intelligently designed is the answer for everyting. (“Of shoes and ships and sealing-wax/Of cabbages and kings/And why the sea is boiling hot/And whether pigs have wings”)

    “Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury/ Signifying nothing.”

  25. Michael Fugate

    When the problem and the answer are the same – then it is a problem.

  26. Thanks, Gary. And as TomS correctly states, ID’s “mechanism” (G.O.D. did it) is no mechanism at all. It doesn’t state how the Grand Old Designer did it — thus, no mechanism. So, since ID has no evidence and no mechanism, they have — nothing. At least, nothing more than a bunch of words chosen carefully to keep their benefactors happy. Klinghoffer would make a good press secretary for Donald Trump. I mean, if you’re going to prostitute your spin writing talents, you may as well get paid well for it.

  27. One interesting trouble with divine mechanism is that it imcopatible with omnipitence, as no less an authority than the archdeacon William Paley wrote in his “Natural Thelogy”
    Why should not the Deity have given to the animal the faculty of vision at once? … Why resort to contrivance, where power is omnipotent? Contrivance, by its very definition and nature, is the refuge of imperfection. To have recourse to expedients, implies difficulty, impediment, restraint, defect of power.
    A design takes account of what is possible, given the properties of the raw materials and the laws of nature which apply. If we detect design, then we know the limits that constrain the mechanism.
    To be fair, I quote what Paley goes on to suggest:
    … amongst other answers which may be given to it; beside reasons of which probably we are ignorant, one answer is this: It is only by the display of contrivance, that the existence, the agency, the wisdom of the Deity, could be testified to his rational creatures.
    Unfortunately, to adopt this is to say that God is operating under a constraint, the “only” way that God can do such-and-such, and, moreover, that what God is testifying to is his defect of power!

  28. One distinction between the theories is that the history of the continents and their arrangement has no particular significance for philosophy, whereas the history of life, how biological novelties emerge, obviously does.

    Er . . . of course the history of the continents has significance for philosophy. It makes a profound difference whether that history is believed to be thousands or billions of years in extent.

  29. Oops. Bad news Klinkledoofman. Wegner’s work first documenting the theory of continental drift is based on actual science, proof, evidence and the scientific method.. Your claims aren’t supported by anything other than superstition. Big difference. But hey, nice try. Jethro , sitting in the third pew can’t tell the difference so your continued invitations to Wednesday mac and cheese socials is assured for the time being.

  30. There aren’t any “claims”, alternative to evolution.
    There is no point to hunting for support, when there is nothing to be supported.