Uncommon Descent Serving The Intelligent Design Community

FYI-FTR: TSZ post, Sept 12, 2013 describes “creationists” — ENEMIES OF HUMANITY

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Sometimes, it is necessary to shine a spotlight on behaviour that is beyond the pale of reasonable civil discourse. Especially if, after repeated attempts to call for correction, we see instead the blog owner — here, EL of TSZ — and others insistently pretending that such falls within the circle of reasonable freedom of expression.

Here, then, are relevant excerpts from davehooke in his post:

Sure, ID proponents are passionate about the tenets of their faith . . . As Kierkegaard noted, there is always an unbridgeable emptiness for the theist, the “leap of faith.” So no matter how much reason one applies to religion, religious belief is at heart irrational. Those who attempt to trowel reason over the gap are foolish, and cowardly in their attempts to divert from the irrationality of their belief.

We already understand why people believe in ID. It is because they belong to sects which cannot accept that an upgraded Canaanite storm god did not create beasts and birds and plants fully formed, in many cases a few hours after finishing the planet. In the twenty-first century, this is a ridiculous idea, utterly contrary to the firmly established science based upon mountains of evidence. Furthermore, to preserve the fiction that ID is science, its supporters must fall back on a conspiracy theory which grants inordinate power to an atheist minority . . . This is not all. We know that prominent figures associated with ID, and particularly the intelligent design advocacy organization, the Discovery Institute, have a theocratic, anti-science agenda . . . .

 The American Christian right deserve no more charity than any other would be totalitarians. If the odd nice, deluded, and ignorant but honest creationist is offended by a lack of charity, that is tough as far as I am concerned. Obliviousness is no excuse for assisting the enemies of humanity. [Cf. archived markup here.]

I should add this, from a comment by GlenDavidson at 4:52 pm and again at  4:40 pm, which also seems to have been taken as unquestionable fact, as it went over without a peep of protest from the usual denizens of TSZ:

Good knowledge of biology is a bulwark against all sorts of frauds perpe-trated upon the public, from ID to anti-vax nonsense . . . .

No fraud deserves charity. ID is nothing but a fraud, dissembling its apologetic purposes, attempting to distort how science is done, and attacking science falsely ad homina to poison the well of knowledge.

All of this seems to be embedded in the circle of thought as if it were established fact. (Cf. Yancey on such biases, here. Bergman on the resulting slaughter of the dissidents, here, is also sobering viewing and reading. The sort of malice, hostility, stereotyping, marginalising and stigmatising we are looking at plainly oppresses, hurts and harms people; people who have been unjustly labelled as enemies of humanity and who — following Dawkins’ sophomorically arrogant malicious taunt — have been branded in scarlet as: ignorant, stupid, insane or wicked. This is not mere bigotry, it is kulturkampf.)

A few remarks are in order, in response to a grotesque and slanderous conspiracy narrative that far too many in our day seem to take as self evident fact:

1 –> The narrative above pivots on the all too familiar equation ID thinker = Creationist = Right Wing irrational theocratic totalitarian religious zealot and fanatic = Nazi. Those who think in such terms reveal their ignorance and bigotry, starting with the historical fact that the National SOCIALIST German Worker’s Party was a party of the left, just not as left as that of Stalin’s Bolsheviks.  Hitler’s remarks on May Day 1927 need to be borne in mind:


(Speech of May 1, 1927 as quoted in John Toland (1976), Adolf Hitler: The Definitive Biography, p. 224. Source, HT. On the “Hitler was a Christian” smear, kindly cf here.)

2 –> DH gives Kierkegaard as his authority for indicting Christians with the charge of basing their life on an inherently irrational leap of faith. While in our post modern era indeed many have been misled to do so, that is not at all necessary, for good historical and worldviews reasons, to be remarked on shortly.

3 –> However,  the implicit idea is that of how rational and scientific atheists and evolutionary materialist secularist progressivists are by contrast. But, this conceit is rooted in self-refuting scientism, that is, the notion that science embraces all credible knowledge. The first most obvious problem with this is that this claim is a claim about science not a claim of science, i.e. it is a claim of philosophy. It thus cuts its own throat. (Cf. also here, here.)

4 –> As an introduction to a sounder approach, we need to understand that all worldviews are forced to start from first plausibles and then will embed faith commitments, so the best we can hope for is to have a reasonable faith as our worldview, assessed on comparative difficulties across factual adequacy, coherence and explanatory power:

A summary of why we end up with foundations for our worldviews, whether or not we would phrase the matter that way}

5 –> So, we must all live by one faith or another grounded in first plausible worldview commitments — including scientists and atheists, the real question is which faith and why. It is selectively hyperskeptical, ignorant and hatefully bigoted to accuse Christians of being inescapably irrational for the mere fact of having an acknowledged faith commitment. For those who wonder about the worldview and historical foundations of a Christian worldview, I suggest here and here for 101s. in a visual age, this video may be useful also:

[vimeo 17960119]

6 –> There are now some common sneers about imaginary friends in the sky and Bronze age sky gods. These are crude street corner atheistical rants and taunts, that speak more about those who make them than they do about those who have come to the conclusion that on balance, pain and evil notwithstanding [cf. here if you are about 40 years out of date on the fate of the problem of evil], the best explanation for the world and for their experience of life is that we are creatures of a good, loving eternal God and Father. I hope those who have made such remarks will now have the decency to regret them.

7 –> The next error with malice aforethought is the equation of Design theory with Creationism. To see why this is an inexcusable error (apart from simple and easily confirmed fact that Creationists criticise design theorists for not using Scripture as a primary point of reference in thinking about origins — which means this willful conflation is a slander intended to entangle design theory in court rulings over creationism . . . ), we would best start with a direct case in point, the Ribosome in action:

Step by step protein synthesis in action, in the ribosome, based on the sequence of codes in the mRNA control tape (Courtesy, Wikipedia and LadyofHats)
Step by step protein synthesis in action, in the ribosome, based on the sequence of codes in the mRNA control tape (Courtesy, Wikipedia and LadyofHats)

. . . Video here:

[vimeo 31830891]

8 –> Ask yourself, what is the only empirically known source for codes, algorithms and execution machinery? is is reasonable or plausible that such would come about by blind chemistry and physics in some warm little pond or the like? On what observational grounds? You will soon see why it is that there is a significant number of scientists, and there are many other informed people who argue that this is a case in point of how functionally specific complex organisation and/or associated information [FSCO/I to save a mouthful of words] is best accounted for scientifically and inductively on the like causes like principle: design. Let me clip Stephen Meyer on this, as cited here in more detail:

[[I]ntelligent design—the activity of a conscious and rational deliberative agent—best explains the origin of the information necessary to produce the first living cell. I argue this because of two things that we know from our uniform and repeated experience, which following Charles Darwin I take to be the basis of all scientific reasoning about the past. First, intelligent agents have demonstrated the capacity to produce large amounts of functionally specified information (especially in a digital form). Second, no undirected chemical process has demonstrated this power. Hence, intelligent design provides the best—most causally adequate—explanation for the origin of the information necessary to produce the first life from simpler non-living chemicals. In other words, intelligent design is the only explanation that cites a cause known to have the capacity to produce the key effect in question . . . .  In order to [[scientifically refute this inductive conclusion]  Falk would need to show that some undirected material cause has [[empirically] demonstrated the power to produce functional biological information apart from the guidance or activity a designing mind. Neither Falk, nor anyone working in origin-of-life biology, has succeeded in doing this . . . .

[[W]e now have a wealth of experience showing that what I call specified or functional information (especially if encoded in digital form) does not arise from purely physical or chemical antecedents [[–> i.e. by blind, undirected forces of chance and necessity].  Indeed, the ribozyme engineering and pre-biotic simulation experiments that Professor Falk commends to my attention actually lend additional inductive support to this generalization.  On the other hand, we do know of a cause—a type of cause—that has demonstrated the power to produce functionally-specified information.  That cause is intelligence or conscious rational deliberation.  As the pioneering information theorist Henry Quastler once observed, “the creation of information is habitually associated with conscious activity.” And, of course, he was right. Whenever we find information—whether embedded in a radio signal, carved in a stone monument, written in a book or etched on a magnetic disc—and we trace it back to its source, invariably we come to mind, not merely a material process.  Thus, the discovery of functionally specified, digitally encoded information along the spine of DNA, provides compelling positive evidence of the activity of a prior designing intelligence.  This conclusion is not based upon what we don’t know.  It is based upon what we do know from our uniform experience about the cause and effect structure of the world—specifically, what we know about what does, and does not, have the power to produce large amounts of specified information . . .

9 –> That is, from the very roots of the tree of life — i.e. origin of life [OOL]:

The Smithsonian Tree of Life, noting the highlighted root, origin of life and major branches
The Smithsonian Tree of Life, noting the highlighted root, origin of life and major branches

. . . what we see is best accounted for on design, as cell based life is chock full of FSCO/I.

10 –> Contrary to yet another talking point spread with malice aforethought in the teeth of ample opportunity to know and do better, this is very easily and readily empirically testable: simply demonstrate FSCO/I coming about by blind chance and mechanical necessity. (It is worth noting that there have been many attempts in recent years, and they have failed, often turning out to actually illustrate the point that FSCO/I is produced by design instead.)

11 –> As for the “FSCO/I is not measurable” talking point, any computer file for a document or program of size greater than 500 bits is an example of FSCO/I, with a measure of its value.

12 –> More broadly, we can readily give a simple summary of ID:

In terms of the essence of the design theory view, it is that the deep past of origins cannot be directly observed so we must study its traces, and infer explanatory models on causal factors shown to produce consequences directly comparable to the traces. Thus such features, where characteristic of a cause, are an empirically reliable sign. And while inductive reasoning on signs is always provisional, it can be highly reliable.

Mechanical necessity such as F = ma, gives rise to low contingency natural regularities that are often reduced to laws. Chance processes yield high contingency outcomes that may follow relevant statistical distribution models such as the normal curve. Design will often be highly contingent also, but will frequently yield patterns such as functionally specific complex organisation and associated information (such as the text string in this post) [FSCO/I]  that are maximally implausible on chance but are on billions of cases observed a reliable sign of design.

No great mystery, and directly empirically testable, just show blind chance and mechanical necessity producing FSCO/I.

Only, that has not happened, many attempts notwithstanding.

So, we have good reason to rule out mechanical necessity if we see high contingency of outcomes under similar starting conditions, and chance if we see something utterly implausible by chance. This being done on a per aspect basis for an object, process, phenomenon, etc.

Nothing intrinsically strange or hard to follow, or in breach of canons of inductive, scientific reasoning.

And certainly no reference to the Nicene Creed or the Chicago declaration on inerrancy etc. No, quote Bible and try to guide science based on interpretation thereof. That is, not inherently religious.

The problem is, Darwinists nailed their flag to the mast 150 years ago, but over the past 60 years it has become plain that the world of life is chock full of signs of design, from DNA on up.

And the further problem over the same 60 years, is that the observed cosmos turns out to give every indication of being fine tuned in many ways that facilitate C chemistry, aqueous medium cell based life.

{Added Oct 3} Given a recent DI Infographic summarising ID at basic level, this will be helpful also, save to those utterly determined to object, distort and dismiss at any cost:

The Science of ID: Biochemistry

Explore more infographics like this one on the web’s largest information design community – Visually.


13 –> After this we can freely conclude that anyone trying to conflate ID with Creationism and onward with an imagined right wing theocratic totalitarian irrational religious Christofascist Nazi conspiracy  is further spreading a smear conceived with malice aforethought.

14 –>Further, one may responsibly argue that the above design inference is in error, but the attempt to smear it all as “fraud” is irresponsible, hateful and bigoted. It is appalling to see how such irresponsible accusations seem to be tossed off as though they were proved facts, to nary a peep of protest.

15 –> But what about the Wedge Document, as is so heavily featured on Wikipedia? Doesn’t it prove the conspiracy beyond reasonable doubt?

16 –> Nope, it reflects rather the confirmation bias that is the bane of irresponsible conspiracy theorising.  As the rebuttal to the smear aptly notes:

Darwinian activists and self-identified “secular humanists” claimed that the “Wedge Document” [an early Discovery Institute promotional newsletter] provided evidence of a great conspiracy by fundamentalists to establish theocracy in America and to impose religious orthodoxy upon the practice of science. One group claimed that the document supplied evidence of a frightening twenty-year master plan “to have religion control not only science, but also everyday life, laws, and education.” . . . . In 1996 Discovery Institute established the Center for the Renewal of Science and Culture (since named the Center for Science and Culture—CSC). Its main purposes
were (1) to support research by scientists and other scholars who were critical of neo-Darwinism and other materialistic theories of origins, and to support those who were developing the emerging scientific theory of intelligent design; (2) to explore the larger philosophical or world-view implications of the scientific debate about design as well other philosophically-charged issues in modern science, and (3) to explore the cultural implications of competing philosophies of science and worldviews. With respect to (2) and (3), it has been a particular interest of the Center to counter the idea that science supports the unscientific philosophy of materialism . . . .

It is in the context of our concern about the world-view implications of certain scientific theories that our wedge strategy must be understood. Far from attacking science (as has been claimed), we are instead challenging scientific materialism—the simplistic philosophy or world-view that  claims that all of reality can be reduced to, or derived from, matter and energy alone. We believe that this is a defense of sound science [NB: –> Not least, as evolutionary materialism is self-refuting once it seeks to explain mind, and undermines responsible morally grounded freedom that is necessary for sound thinking and for principled moral self-government in a free community alike]. . . .

In any case, the “Wedge Document” articulates a strategy for influencing science and culture with our ideas through research, reasoned argument and open debate. As our not-so-secret secret document put it, “without solid scholarship, research and argument, the project would be just another attempt to indoctrinate instead of persuade.”

We fail to see any scandal in this. Nor have we been able see how any fair-minded person who had actually read the “Wedge Document,” or who had any acquaintance with our actual work, could attribute to us the nefarious views and motives that Professor Forrest and others have assigned us. The “Wedge Document” articulates a plan for reasoned persuasion, not political control. [The Wedge Document: So what? Discovery Institute, 2006]

17 –> In this context, it is utterly inexcusable and discrediting to see the continued hosting at TSZ of an assertion that willfully labels Christians, Creationists and design thinkers as “enemies of humanity,” whether primary as imagined ringleaders or secondarily as dupes.

18 –> The historical antecedents of that speak for themselves, such as the actions of that misanthrope, Robespierre in the French Revolution or how Nero and company unjustly blamed Christians c AD 64 as arsonists who set Rome afire, the better to divert suspicion and attach it to people viewed as enemies of humanity.

19 –> In that context the onward insistence that such is within the bounds of freedom of expression is blatantly a case of enabling of slander and hate speech.


I therefore call on the owner of the blog, TSZ, EL, to think and do better. Likewise, those who have swallowed such rhetorical poison as though it were even near the truth.

This is for the record, and those who wish to debate will have ample opportunity to do so here at UD and elsewhere.   END