Uncommon Descent Serving The Intelligent Design Community

The Hate-Monger of the Gaps

[From a colleague:] The problem is that methodological naturalism prevents us from detecting a “hate” crime, since “hate” is an immaterial property had by agents that can only be inferred from behavior, speech, etc. Other minds cannot be observed, just inferred by analogy, like the traditional argument from design. Because it is always possible that what appears to be “hate” may very well be the result of non-agent causes that merely manifest themselves in a way that appear to be agent caused, attributing “hate” to a cluster of cells we call a “human being” is just “hate-monger of the gaps.” It is an argument from ignorance because we have not yet discovered the non-agent causes that made the hate come Read More ›

How the debate has changed . . .

Twenty years ago: Darwinian biology teacher challenges students with “overwhelming evidence” for evolution, and students who believe in creation/design are left feeling confused and intimidated. The present day: Darwinian biology teacher is forced to expend a lot of energy finding plausible answers to all the challenges that ID-informed students are levying against evolution.

Confidence in the solvability of currently unsolved scientific problems

[From a philosopher colleague:]

I am visiting Harvard, and I was reading the conservative student
paper here, and came across an interesting quote from from Richard
Wrangham, a biologist, on the gaps in science that Intelligent Design
theorists point to: “Given that everything we know about science
gives us confidence that these details either have already or will
shortly be provided, this is both an unhelpful and an improbable claim.”

Nevermind the Intelligent Design context specifically. What I am
interested in is whether there can be a good reason for a naturalist
(and this guy may not be one, though his being a biologist, alas, makes
it more likely than not given the stats) to believe of an unsolved
scientific problem that a solution will eventually be found
(“shortly” or not). The argument seems to be an induction: We have
solved so many prior scientific problems that we have a reasonable
confidence that we will solve this one. Read More ›

Gertrude Himmelfarb on ID

HOW THE DEBATE OVER DARWIN HASN’T EVOLVED by Gertrude Himmelfarb The New Republic Online Post date: 12.03.05, Issue date: 12.12.05 . . . Many Victorian clerics found it possible to reconcile not only evolution but natural selection as well with religion, while many secularists had reservations not about evolution but about natural selection. John Stuart Mill, for example, was impressed by the “knowledge and ingenuity” that Darwin brought to bear upon his thesis, but finally decided (as late as 1870) that it “is still and will probably long remain problematical.” Moreover, he added, even if it were proved, it would not be inconsistent with creation. He himself, he said, on the state of the evidence, believed in “creation by intelligence.” Read More ›

Fundamentalists Beat Up Mr. Anti-ID, Paul Mirecki

. . . What did they say, exactly? I guess it was something like, “This mild assault is payback for your famously controversial opinions against us fundamentalist Christians, Mirecki. Don’t let us catch you south of Lawrence again.” Or maybe not. But I am forced to guess, because Mirecki won’t tell what the men said to him. . . . MORE

Plantinga on the definition of “fundamentalist”

We must first look into the use of this term ‘fundamentalist’. On the most common contemporary academic use of the term, it is a term of abuse or disapprobation, rather like ‘son of a bitch’, more exactly ‘sonovabitch’, or perhaps still more exactly (at least according to those authorities who look to the Old West as normative on matters of pronunciation) ‘sumbitch’. When the term is used in this way, no definition of it is ordinarily given. (If you called someone a sumbitch, would you feel obliged first to define the term?) Still, there is a bit more to the meaning of ‘fundamentalist’ (in this widely current use): it isn’t simply a term of abuse. In addition to its emotive Read More ›

If only people knew more science . . .

Concerning Nicholas Kristof’s NYTimes Op-Ed that appeared yesterday:

[From a colleague:] It is ironic that Mr. Kristoff chose to convey his disdain for the humanities by employing language rather than statistics or flow charts.

He writes that the officers of the Third Reich were steeped in Kant and Goethe,” but they were also whizzes in mathematics, the medical science, natural gas, and the technology of efficient transportation, for without
those four the Holocaust would have had far fewer victims. It is not the latter four that impart to Mr. Kistof his belief that the Third Reich was wrong. In fact, his notion that the humanities are less important than the
sciences is not a scientific judgment, but a philosophical claim about the order of things. Mr. Kristof must rely on that which he despises. If he had studied the humanities well, he would have not made such a freshman
philosophy student mistake. But then again, he writes for the New York Times.

Mr. Kristof writes that “the U.S. has bungled research on stem cells, perhaps partly because Mr. Bush didn’t realize how restrictive his curb on research funds would be.” That’s exactly how the Goethe-Kant reading Nazis would have put it if confronted with criticisms of their use of human subjects to find cures for the powerful. Anti-science in the German 1940s meant you were against fewer lampshades made out of people with names like Goldberg and Einstein. This is what happens when we take the “human” out of humanities and let the cultural barbarians dictate to us what is right and wrong. Read More ›

Does Darwin Need Defending?

In the U.S., Darwin still needs defending By MICHAEL RUSE Saturday, December 3, 2005 Page D6 Darwin: Discovering the Tree of Life By Niles Eldredge Norton, 256 pages, $49 I am an English-born Canadian who now lives in Florida. I am here because Ontario universities still fire people for being old. The United States regards ageism as a moral wrong, on a par with sexism and racism. This is one of the many things I find right about the United States, along with Saturday mail delivery and good-quality Sunday newspapers. Yet after a lifetime of studying Americans — I have gone to school with them, I have argued with them, I have had sex with them, and now I live Read More ›

Paul Weyrich on ID

Intelligent design — A scientific, academic and philosophical controversy
Paul Weyrich
December 6, 2005


Many Americans are focused on what should be taught in the schools regarding our universe and the Earth — how life as we know it has come to be. This has become a hot-button issue, igniting controversy in Kansas over what should be taught in the public schools and in Pennsylvania, where a high profile trial is taking place over a local school board decision. NEWSWEEK featured Charles Darwin on its cover and the current SMITHSONIAN prints a story on Charles Darwin. The controversy is unlikely to fade soon, in large measure because a new school of thought is gaining increasing acceptance within scientific and academic circles. Read More ›

Is there really a culture war?

For an excellent illustration of why we are indeed in a culture war, look here: http://itsfunnyhoney.com/page.php?id=47.

NPR and ID

Below is an article by the NPR Omsbudsman Jeff Dvorkin. In it he addresses the challenges NPR faces in covering ID. Is he writing as a reporter or as an advocate for materialism? How well informed is he about ID? Does the Ombudsman needs and Ombudsman?

Consider these quotes: Read More ›

Science and Torah: Conflict or Complement?

http://www.lubavitch.com/Article.asp?Section=10&Article=728 . . . Professor Dembski, considered by many to be the most articulate advocate of Intelligent Design, will address the place of intelligent design in the natural sciences, followed by an interactive question and answer period with the audience. . . .