Uncommon Descent Serving The Intelligent Design Community

Evolutionary psychology: I love it. Gossip is good for you

A friend on his lunch break sends me this – the latest nonsense from “evolutionary psychology”:

Google News Alert

Bruce Schneier: More on the Broad View of Security CSO – Framingham,MA,USAFor example, a lot of the seemingly irrational security trade-offs that the behavioral economists have documented can be explained by the evolutionary …See all stories on this topic

Have you heard? Gossip can be good for you Chicago Tribune – United States Gossiping about neighbors, co-workers and, increasingly, celebrities all grows from the same evolutionary root: survival. Back in the day, if you didn’t …See all stories on this topic

Does religion provide an evolutionary advantage? Science a Gogo – USA He found persuasive evidence from a variety of domains – including neuroscience, economics, psychology and sociology – that religious beliefs and religious …See all stories on this topic

Look at that middle story: I wonder whether a study detailing how gossip isn’t good for you – relative to minding your own business and getting on with the job at hand – would see the light of day … ?

One thing to note about EP is its utter predictability. It always seems to be about whatever foolishness is noised about in pop culture. If the talk show circuit likes it, it is definitely science. And who could possibly argue with that? Read More ›

ID Debate at Opposing Views

I haven’t been following this debate at Opposing Views although I was invited to participate and am in frequent contact with those people writing for the ID side.  I believe the debate is closed now.  I declined the invitation because I thought it would simply be a rehash of all the old arguments and nobody ever really wins.   The argument from design, unlike what some people here have claimed, is as old as Plato and Aristotle.  It predates the birth of Christ by several centuries and probably much more.  Evidence of order and design in the universe is abundant and clear to any thinking individual and people have been thinking for a very long time.   The appearance of design is abundant and clear but the nature of the designer is not.  Thus in order to explain the where, why, and how of the design a plethora of creator mythologies have been made up out of whole cloth.  The notion that the modern ID movement is creation science in cheap tuxedo is a lie.  Creation science is a relative newcomer on the scene.   ID doesn’t try to find material evidence for and explanations of things like a global flood, a young earth, the parting of the Red Sea, people turning into pillars of salt, or any of that stuff.

Anyhow, all this is evident in the debate. You see our side is all about math, science, logic, and reason. The opposing side is all about accusing us of being nothing but god botherers wanting to get copies of the holy bible placed in all public school classrooms. The usual suspects and the usual arguments…

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ID and the Science of God: Part I

In response to an earlier post of mine, DaveScot kindly pointed out this website’s definition of ID. The breadth of the definition invites scepticism: ID is defined as the science of design detection — how to recognize patterns arranged by an intelligent cause for a purpose. But is there really some single concept of ‘intelligence’ that informs designs that are generated by biological, human, and possibly even mechanical means? Why would anyone think such a thing in the first place? Yet, it is precisely this prospect that makes ID intellectually challenging – for both supporters and opponents.

It’s interesting that not everything is claimed to be intelligently designed. This keeps the phrase ‘intelligent design’ from simply collapsing into ‘design’ by implying a distinction between the intelligence and that on which it acts to produce design. So, then, what exactly is this ‘intelligence’ that stands apart from matter? Well, the most obvious answer historically is a deity who exists in at least a semi-transcendent state. But how can you get any scientific mileage from that?

Enter theodicy, which literally means (in Greek) ‘divine justice’. It is now a field much reduced from its late 17th century heyday. Theodicy exists today as a boutique topic in philosophy and theology, where it’s limited to asking how God could allow so much evil and suffering in the world. But originally the question was expressed much more broadly to encompass issues that are nowadays more naturally taken up by economics, engineering and systems science – and the areas of biology influenced by them: How does the deity optimise, given what it’s trying to achieve (i.e. ideas) and what it’s got to work with (i.e. matter)? This broader version moves into ID territory, a point that has not escaped the notice of theologians who nowadays talk about theodicy.

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Book Review: Slaughter of the Dissidents

I just got through reading Slaughter of the Dissidents, and I must say, it is fantastic. I was a little skeptical at first, simply because the title of the book was so extreme. After reading it, I still think that the title is extreme (there are real slaughters of people happening in different parts of the world), but I can see why it was chosen – the extent to which Darwin skeptics are being persecuted in academic environments is simply astonishing.
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A high school biology textbook in use in 1917 said this: …

Read it and try to guess which one: Promise you won’t cheat by Googling this quote. Or if you do, fine, but don’t post an answer that makes it sound like you had figured out the origin using brain power or historical knowledge or such. I’ll find you out eventually, because you won’t be anywhere near that smart later, when Google can’t help you: Improvement of Man. – If the stock of domesticated animals can be improved, it is not unfair to ask if the health and vigor of future generations of men and women on th earth might not be improved by applying to them the laws of selection. Eugenics. – When people marry there are certain things that Read More ›

A friend’s Google alert for evolutionary psychology …

I remember science in Grades Eleven and Twelve. It was about measuring things accurately, estimating according to fixed rules, and - above all - understanding how the laws of physics and the periodic table worked. If I were a Darwinist trying to make some order in my life and career, I would begin by banishing "evolutionary psychology" from any pretense whatever to be a science. I do not know what they can lose, but I can sure see what they would gain. Read More ›

The new atheists: Santa’s sleigh came and went, and never gave them what they needed

In The Ottawa Citizen, Robert Sibley advises

From New Age cults to murderous fundamentalism, these are dark times for religion, and the ‘new atheists’ are in the ascendant. The problem with their movement is that they don’t understand the source of their hostility … (December 26, 2008)

Oh? In the ascendant? In the legacy mainstream media, maybe, but not in the world at large.

In fact, this year – for the first time in a long while – I noticed a decisive pushback against their efforts to stop people from saying “Merry Christmas!”

Be a Christian, don’t be a Christian, … it’s your choice. But December 25 is Christmas Day. In Canada, both December 25 and December 26 are statutory holidays – and pretty popular ones, too, so you need to keep that fact in mind if you intend to try litigation. No one is going to thank you for forcing them to work on one of those days, if they are not in an essential service field.

Anyway, I don’t think the new atheists’ movement is really going anywhere because what they don’t have is any important new ideas.

I mean, once you get past Richard Dawkins explaining to Ben Stein in Expelled that space aliens might have created life – but not God – or Lee Smolin’s zillions of flopped universes, theirs are not new ideas that we can compare with, say, the discovery of neuroplasticity in the brain.

Now THAT was a discovery – oh my heavens, what a discovery! Just think of all the old people who realize that they are not consigned to involuntary senility after all! But that discovery did not help materialist atheism one bit. Neuroplasticity makes way more sense if your immaterial mind is real and directs your brain.

Which reminds me: What discoveries would have helped materialist atheism? Here are some:

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Brownian Motion, Reynolds Number, Supersonic Flight, and the Danger of Mindless Extrapolation

At very small scales, the disturbances caused by the random motion of molecules in a liquid is called Brownian motion. This is why bacterial flagella must spin at such high RsPM (Revolutions Per Minute, not Revolution Per Minutes). They must overcome the random motion of the particles in their watery environment. The propeller on the back of a motor boat does not have to deal with Brownian motion. In fluid dynamics there is Reynolds number, with which we must deal in aerospace R&D. What this basically says is that we cannot make small models of an aircraft flying at low altitudes and extrapolate this to large aircraft flying at high altitudes, or vice versa. The leading edge of an aircraft Read More ›

Flying Spaghetti Monster
Flying Spaghetti Monster Creation of Adam

What is the Flying Spaghetti Monster actually mocking?

Flying Spaghetti Monster Creation of Adam Any questions on what exactly is being mocked? Hint: The answer is not the science of design detection. Any questions on how we define Intelligent Design here and elsewhere? Hint: Look on the sidebar under Definition of Intelligent Design.  It’s been there, unchanged, for years.  I should know as I put it there years ago.  This definition of Intelligent Design was worked out in a collaborative effort by all the usual suspects – fellows of the Discovery Institute.

Introduction to a Science of God: Fathoming the Intelligence Behind Intelligent Design

This is the first of a series of posts on ‘The Science of God’, aka my response to the charge that ID is indistinguishable from Pastafarianism. Let me start with a familiar Q and A:


Q: What, in a nutshell, is the Darwinist argument against ID?

A: First of all, nature doesn’t exhibit the sort of design that requires a prior intelligence to explain it. But even if nature were shown to exhibit ‘intelligent design’, ID has no way of specifying the responsible intelligence. It might as well be the Flying Spaghetti Monster. So at best ID might undermine the adequacy of Darwinist accounts without advancing anything positive on its own behalf.


The import of this analysis is obvious: ID is a science-stopper: ID tries to leverage Darwinism’s own difficulties into grounds for concluding that science can only go so far before one needs to turn to something else, presumably blind faith of some sort. It’s easy to see why Judge Jones didn’t have much time for ID at the Dover Trial. He basically bought this analysis, as spoon-fed to him by the ACLU lawyers. What worries me is that some ID supporters may buy it as well. In other words, they would wish to have ID taught in science classes, not as an alternative to Darwinism but as a means of demonstrating the limits of scientific inquiry altogether.

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A new look at an old idea – Geocentrism

In another thread a new sock puppet contributor on Uncommon Descent named TheYellowShark with an as yet undetermined appendage writes:

Geocentricsm was accepted beyond all reasonable doubt the scientific community circa 1610. Being in an echo chamber isn’t good for anybody.


And intelligent design was accepted by the scientific community prior to 1859. Both ideas were replaced, and rightfully so.

Rightfully so? Think again my cartilaginous fishy friend. Nothing in science is beyond refute.

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