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Noam Chomsky: Huffing against design in the universe backfires?

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Following up on Science, free speech, and climate change: I (news writer O’Leary) don’t tend to cover climate change much. It’s a topic you’d have to cover for years to get a good gripn. And  where I live, the seasons are Winter, winter, winter, and road construction, or anyway that is how it often feels. That said, at Forbes Mag,, Peter Ferrara offers an article on evidence for global cooling, which sheds some light on the Little Ice Age in Europe:

The height of the Little Ice Age is generally dated as 1650 to 1850 A.D. The American Revolutionary Army under General George Washington shivered at Valley Forge in the winter of 1777-78, and New York harbor was frozen in the winter of 1780. Historic snowstorms struck Lisbon, Portugal in 1665, 1744 and 1886. Glaciers in Glacier National Park in Montana advanced until the late 18th or early 19th centuries. The last River Thames Frost Fair was held in 1814. The Little Ice Age phased out during the middle to late 19th century.

The Little Ice Age, following the historically warm temperatures of the Medieval Warm Period, which lasted from about AD 950 to 1250, has been attributed to natural cycles in solar activity, particularly sunspots. …

The increase in global temperatures since the late 19th century just reflects the end of the Little Ice Age.

Some of us have wondered whether the Little Ice Age was one of the drivers of the Industrial Revolution and/or colonialism. Europeans had not been nearly so anxious to innovate or move during the Medieval Warm Period. But they sure were later.

Meanwhile, a friend sends me this comment by Noam Chomsky in the Toronto Star (November 14, 2005):

Intelligent design raises the question of whether it is intelligent to disregard scientific evidence about matters of supreme importance to the nation and the world — like global warming.

A classic. Chomsky assumes that the planet must be warming up, catastrophe is imminent, and people must be stupid not to believe it. Maybe also so stupid as to think that the universe shows evidence of design?

But just a minute. It is usually a sign of intelligence to disbelieve things that one’s own experience disconfirms and to doubt claims about imminent catastrophes. If people are not experiencing warming, they may doubt it without being stupid (even if it happens to be true). The same people may doubt that the neighbourhood is full of spies who need to be lynched, despite a hysterical politician’s claims, because that just isn’t their experience. And few would think them wrong in principle to make experience the basis for judgement.

Note: Curiously, Chomsky, though comfortable with naturalist/materialist accounts in general, doubted Darwin. (“Tom Bethell on Noam Chomsky’s dissent from Darwin,” Uncommon Descent, February 11, 2012)

14 Replies to “Noam Chomsky: Huffing against design in the universe backfires?

  1. 1
    Gregory says:

    Thanks for the link to Chomsky. I hadn’t read his thoughts about ‘Intelligent Design Theory’ before. It is doubtful that they’ve changed since 2005. He is another big-hitter against IDism.

    As you may know, Denyse, Chomsky is thought to be one of the most cited scholars in the humanities/social sciences, at least in the past 30 years. He rivals or exceeds R. Dawkins. It’s not a surprise that they both reject IDT. It may be strange, but leading scholars, atheists and theists agree on this rejection of IDism.

    And again you’ve contributed to citing Chomsky. Hurrah at UD!

    “malignant design has tons of empirical evidence, much more than Darwinian evolution, by some criteria: the world’s cruelty.” – Chomsky

    Yet IDists don’t want to talk about this, do they, because their ‘Intelligent Design’ is a ‘strictly scientific’ theory that doesn’t/can’t by fiat involve study of the ‘designer(s)/Designer(s)?

    It’s unfortunate, but not surprising, and not unusual for a small American movement (with a few Canadian supporters), that IDism has no one who can dialogue on Chomsky’s level.

  2. 2
    Barb says:

    I recently read an interesting book entitled “Intellectual Morons: How Ideology Makes Smart People Fall for Stupid Ideas” by Daniel Flynn ( He has one chapter that pretty much excoriates Chomsky for his ideology.


    It’s not a surprise that they both reject IDT. It may be strange, but leading scholars, atheists and theists agree on this rejection of IDism.

    This is the logical fallacy of jumping on the bandwagon. As pointed out to you before, truth isn’t determined by the number of people who believe in a particular precept.

    It’s unfortunate, but not surprising, and not unusual for a small American movement (with a few Canadian supporters), that IDism has no one who can dialogue on Chomsky’s level.

    Ad hominem. There are plenty of PhD’s who could easily debate Chomsky into the ground. By the way, have you ever read Flynn’s book? How about any other book that doesn’t paint Chomsky in a good light?

    If Chomsky wants to discuss the world’s cruelty, he’s about 1900 years too late. Jesus discussed the same subject in Matthew, chapter 24. Paul also described “critical times” in 1 Timothy chapter 3.

  3. 3
    Robert Byers says:

    Noam chomsky is someone I recently just discovered by way of origin subjects.
    his only claim to fame is stuff about language and kids etc.
    Then he took this FAME and presumed to talk about everyuthing from a extreme left wing view.
    I heard his life story in a interview and it makes mockery of modern liberal choices for their leaders.
    He should stick to language and probably not that. Kids don’t help figure things out.
    I’m glad he’s on the bad guys side. It could only be.

  4. 4
    Timaeus says:

    “ID has no one who can dialogue on Chomsky’s level.”

    Aside from the painful use of a noun as a verb in this sentence, its contents are ludicrous. “Dialogue” about what? Chomsky knows next to nothing about biology or any of the natural sciences. He’s yet another grandiose, overreaching academic, who, based on his worldwide reputation in linguistics, deems himself competent to talk about any subject in the world from economics to evolution. I doubt Chomsky could converse with Behe or Dembski about math or biochemistry for even 30 minutes.

    I’d give Chomsky points for doubting Darwinian evolution, except that he makes such a virtue out of being a contrarian and anti-establishment that I think it’s a pure love of nay-saying than any serious love of truth that motivates his objections. I’ve never felt that Chomsky has any motivation beyond the egocentric, and I regard his contributions as a “public intellectual” as worthless at best, destructive at worst. (And I’m told by competent linguists that even his vaunted linguistics left a great deal to be desired, but as it’s not my field, I’ll stay out of that one.)

    Anyhow, Chomsky is like Dawkins now, old and washed-up and cranky. No one pays much attention to him any more, and 25 years from now, he will be about as influential on modern thought as Kahlil Gibran. I.e., he will be no more discussed (outside of academic linguistics) than Ken Miller, Eugenie Scott, Karl Giberson, P. Z. Myers, Jason Rosenhouse, Michael Shermer, or any of the other ephemeral people who are known only because they have dived into public controversies, not because of the quality or depth of their thought.

  5. 5
    Gregory says:

    You misquoted me in #4, timaeus. I wrote “IDism” not “ID.”

    Your ‘editing error’ was probably intentional, given your track record of deceit and flip-flopping. And now you’re chasing me to other sites again, insisting that you are a competent judge of contemporary (not 30 years outdated) human-social sciences.

    If only people here at UD actually knew who you are, right? They’d make you as famous as your hero Michael Behe is (even though he has to disclaim his own Faculty’s distrust when he presents in public)! Well, healing from Expelled Syndrome might help, timaeus, if you should ever want and actively seek to be healed from your unconventional IDist delusion.

  6. 6
    Timaeus says:

    No, Gregory, there was no intentional misrepresentation. I did misquote the exact word you used, but it was an accident. However, it doesn’t matter, for two reasons:

    1. You are on record as saying that ID (as opposed to lower-case “id” or “intelligent design”) is an ideology, and you are also on record as saying that all “isms” are ideologies. It is therefore a reasonable inference that you regard “ID” and “IDism” as equally ideology, and in fact as the same ideology. If not, please define, by means of two precise English sentences (not long-winded paragraphs filled with jargon), the terms “ID” and “IDism,” and add a clarifying sentence or two on how they differ, if such clarification is necessary.

    2. My point was about the incompetence of Noam Chomsky to discuss (with authority) anything outside of linguistics. Nothing you have said here even touches on that point, let alone refutes it. Basically you were appealing to Chomsky’s prestige as a “great thinker” and I called you bluff by pointing out that almost no one (any more) regards Chomsky as a “great thinker” outside of linguistics. In fact, he hasn’t been thought of as a major thinker for about 25 years now. He was “in vogue” in the 1960s and 1970s, but with the collapse of the leftist world view since those days, his ideas now seem merely quaint, like the music of the Dave Clark Five or the Oriental wisdom of the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. Chomsky is now just another “used to be famous” arrogant East Coast American academic. I regard his opinions on evolution and intelligent design, and on most other matters, as vulgar lay opinion, and in any case as irrelevant to our discussions here.

    And more generally, your tendency to name-drop rather than argue points based on substance is deplorable. It doesn’t matter what “great names” have criticized ID or IDism; it matters only how good their arguments are. You haven’t presented Chomsky’s argument against irreducible complexity, etc., and therefore no one here is under any obligation to take your name-dropping seriously.

    I’m hardly “chasing” you — if I wanted to chase you, I’d comment on your own websites. In fact, I’m trying not to respond to you at all. If you had kept your promise to abandon UD that you made a few months ago, you wouldn’t have got the above response. But despite the fact that you have frequently voiced contempt for this site and everyone who posts on it, you don’t seem to be able to keep yourself away from it. Obviously you find the ID position more intriguing than you are willing to admit, if you feel the need to be constantly arguing against it. If you found it merely silly nonsense, you wouldn’t give it any more time than you give to astrology or the views of Erich von Daniken. You must find it at least a plausible view, or you wouldn’t exert so much effort to try to annihilate it.

    So the question is why you find ID at least plausible. I would submit that, deep down, you know that there is considerable empirical evidence that biological and other systems are in fact designed, but that some theological or political or personal agenda (one unknown to me) keeps you from weighing that evidence fairly.

    I’m genuinely puzzled. If you came right out and said: “I now admit that there is evidence for design in nature, and I support ID on this point (though not regarding the conservative social agenda of some of its champions),” you could go on doing your “study of human designing and designers” and “human extension” just as before; it is no skin off your nose, academically speaking, if ID turns out to be entirely correct. And since you are a Christian who *must* believe that the world, and especially man, was designed, your reticence is all the more puzzling. Your hostility toward ID (as opposed to certain actions of the Discovery Institute) is thus inexplicable. There is nothing in either your academic work or your religious faith that should require such hostility. We should be allies here; but you keep drawing lines in the sand and picking fights with every ID proponent in sight.

    Just think, Gregory. Your work in sociology could be nicely paralleled with the work ID folks are doing in biology, cosmology, etc. You could say: “Just as ID people have fleshed out the effects of divine design in nature, so I intend to flesh out the effects of human design in the social and political world.” That would fit in very well with the “image of God” notion stressed so much by your hero Steve Fuller: as God does in creating the universe, so man does in creating the human world. This would make you an ally, or at least a friendly neutral, in relation to ID folks. We could have peaceful co-existence. But you are determined to have war. Why? What do you gain by war rather than peace?

  7. 7
    Mung says:

    Oh my.

    Didn’t Gregory promise to leave us poor suckers to our fate long ago?

  8. 8
    Gregory says:

    This is rare: ‘timaeus’ admitting he made a mistake – “it was an accident.” Iow, he didn’t ‘intend’ it. He didn’t realise his error. So be it. You are forgiven, timaeus; apology accepted.

    ‘IDism’ is an ideology. ‘IDT(heory)’ is an attempt at a ‘strictly scientific’ theory (IC, SC, FSCO/I, etc.). Yes, most people who promote IDT are actually ideological IDists. Yet, the attempt at a ‘strictly scientific’ theory nevertheless continues as a wish-fulfillment (i.e. against the Modern Evolutionary Synthesis); it continues to fail.
    timaeus has yet again, as has happened countless times before, put words into my mouth in his writings and he doesn’t even deny doing it. What a sad case of a rhetorician without a credible position!

    “Just as ID people have fleshed out the effects of divine design in nature, so I [timaeus] intend to flesh out the effects of human design in the social and political world.”

    Pause and read this again folks, for it shows the naivety and foolishness tinged with reckless imagination and ideological arrogance of the person who posts under the pseudonym ‘timaeus’ at UD. He is feigning to ‘universalise’ IDism!!!

    If it were really as simple as timaeus believes, then please answer this: why has no one affiliated with the Discovery Institute tried to ‘flesh out the effects of human design in the social and political world’? Why not Gilder, why not Witt, why not Wiker, why not West? WHY NOT ANYONE in the DI? They’ve got money ready to throw at people to try to do this *if* they actually wanted to, if they thought it was possible. But they don’t really want to or believe it can be done.

    Actually, the DI did try. But they failed. Yet another IDist debacle. 🙁 This is demonstrated in the closure of the DI’s summer program in Humanities and Social Sciences. Why did it close? Only the brave IDist or UD reader will ask themselves. The DI couldn’t do what timaeus is now asking me to do for them. Isn’t it therefore entirely humble, gentle and innocent of him to request this? 😉

    johnnyb expressed curiosity on the topic, stating, “I have a hard time seeing why ID is not relevant to economics,” and saying that “the only analogy we have to things that create functional information is human agency.” Why then, is there no IDT in human-social sciences? Who will offer a coherent answer to this question at Uncommon Descent blog?

    Repeat: Why then, is there no IDT in human-social sciences? Why is there NO IDT of economics?

    timaeus has previously opined that IDT is about cosmology, biology, geology and other natural sciences. Now he is suggesting there could be an IDT in human-social sciences?!! What is this frivolous nonsense?

    The truth is that ‘Intelligent Design Theory’ makes no sense in the social, economic and political world. It is an attempt at an Origins of Life apologetic, armed as a peculiarly American culture war against materialism, naturalism and secularism in the USA. The Wedge document was damning, the phrase ‘cdesignproponentsists’ shown at the Dover trial was a convincing reality-check and there is now virtually no chance of IDism *ever* entering American schools, despite the money being pumped into PR propaganda by the DI.

    So when timaeus uses his rhetorical training to suggest, “Your work in sociology could be nicely paralleled with the work ID folks are doing in biology, cosmology, etc.” he is really talking a foolish fantasy. But folks, one shouldn’t expect otherwise from someone obviously suffering from Expelled Syndrome.

    Why do you continue to needlessly suffer from this disease, timaeus? There is a cure. Call a doctor!


  9. 9
    PeterJ says:


    “Oh my.Didn’t Gregory promise to leave us poor suckers to our fate long ago?”

    Yes he did, but think about it; where on earth would he go?

  10. 10
    Gregory says:

    To PeterJ’s evangelical Scottish political party website! 😉

  11. 11
    Gregory says:


    And this is where Chomsky comes in; a humanities scholar that is relevant on the topic of lowercase ‘intelligence’ and ‘natural language.’ timaeus just seems jealous of someone who actually publishes, in this case, prolifically and globally. Chomsky is in high demand, while timaeus is invisible in his Expelled Syndrome cave of irrelevance.

    Please note that I’m not defending everything Chomsky, as timaeus suggests from his right-wing conservative perspective to critique Chomsky, as if that was my point. The point is that Chomsky, like many other intelligent people recognise the façade that IDism has erected. Perhaps some who visit or post at UD will finally come to realise this position too.

    I have repeatedly shown IDism’s scientistic unbelievability for Abrahamic believers. Stephen Barr and Francis Beckwith have shown this, Ted Davis and George Murphy have shown this, Owen Gingerich has shown this, Ed Feser has shown this … and countless others outside of the American context. Those who insist on rejecting the clear and relevant distinction between lowercase ‘intelligent design’ and Uppercase ‘Intelligent Design’ reveal themselves as shallow of knowledge. Let me therefore tip my hat to vjtorley, nullasalus and a few others at UD who recognise the significance of the distinction and write it in their posts.

    ‘Malignant (lowercase ‘d’) design,’ as Chomsky names it, is every bit as relevant a concept-duo as so-called (uppercase) ‘Intelligent Design.’ If it were to ‘parallel’ IDists (which I have explained above why it won’t), any IDT in human-social sciences would need to admit that ‘evil’ is ‘intelligently designed.’ Evil is visible in its ‘effects of intelligence.’

    They/you would need to admit that America’s war in Iraq was ‘intelligently designed,’ that Gitmo prison was ‘intelligently designed,’ that the 11-09-01 attacks were ‘intelligently designed,’ that the USA’s education system is ‘intelligently designed,’ that its gun laws are ‘intelligently designed,’ that its teenage pregnancy rate reflects ‘intelligent design,’ even that the Holocaust was ‘intelligently designed;’ that all the problems of the world are ‘intelligently designed’ too!

    Persons who seriously feign (which frankly I doubt timaeus was doing, joker and rhetorician as he is) to make an IDT in human-social sciences would realise that to approach values, beliefs, emotions, intuitions, ideas, dreams and choices, ‘IDT’ would have to undergo such a significant makeover (such a ‘revolution’) that it would not be IDT anymore. That’s my honest assessment of timaeus’ seemingly ‘logical’ (but actually non-sensical) proposal. And nobody in the IDM has lifted a finger to work on this topic that could say otherwise. If you’ve got evidence IDists, let’s hear it! No, silence is all you’ve got on this topic, which includes the leaders of the IDM/DI.

    This is also why Stephen C. Meyer bowed in recognition to Steve Fuller in Cambridge, even though Fuller is not a natural scientist. Fuller realises (unlike several ID leaders, though Wells told me that he understood this) that theodicy is inescapable for ‘Intelligent Design Theory,’ qua ‘theory.’ Fuller is more honest, direct, significant, serious and forward-looking by far than any ID leaders because he actually speaks truth to power. He is on-board with criticisms of the ‘Darwinian hegemony’ in Academia. But he goes further than this, and with more insightful analysis to say that IDism is obviously based on theology, i.e. that it is clearly not ‘strictly scientific’ and that lowercase id has implications for the present and future of humanity, not just its distant past.

    And Fuller is not my ‘hero’ (though timaeus likes to create fantasies for his cave stories, which some people at UD unknowingly swallow as truth). He’s actually quite a humble guy and wouldn’t want anyone to call him their hero. He’s a hard worker, prolific writer and speaker in high demand (not mainly in evangelical Protestant neo-creationist American networks, unlike IDist leaders) and reads a lot! I greatly respect Fuller’s courage, which is beyond the IDM’s in many ways, and reflect this in my work. It’s a shame more IDists weren’t broader thinkers to discover the importance of his work (outside of creationism vs. evolutionism and IDism in the USA). But there are other figures that I value more than Fuller, while nevertheless confirming that he is driving forward with interesting and relevant challenges for people to face wrt Humanity 2.0. It doesn’t really matter that a guy like stephenb claims Fuller is incoherent or inadequate, when it is stephenb that makes his home page the UD blog, a combox of low-level IDism.

    “Obviously you find the ID position more intriguing than you are willing to admit…you find ID at least plausible”
    No, I don’t. I stand behind the orthodox/catholic notion of lowercase ‘intelligent design’ as a classical theological ‘design argument.’ But that, of course, is *not* what IDT is about (wink, nudge, would you like some cake with that?). So I am standing up saying clearly that Abrahamic believers need not tolerate and should speak out against IDists trying to steal ‘the design argument’ from them and dress it up as ‘strictly scientific.’

    “We should be allies here”

    O.k., timaeus, are you ready to face the music and be serious? Then drop the facades of ‘strictly scientific’ and admit what I and others have been patiently saying for 5+ years: Uppercase Intelligent Design Theory (IDT) is properly understood as inclusively a science, philosophy, theology/worldview conversation. One cannot conveniently divorce philosophy or theology/worldview from IDT as it is meant by the DI/IDM leaders. Iow, IDT is not and cannot be a ‘strictly scientific’ theory, as Luskin and the DI pretend. Recognise the hoax for what it is, will you?

    For some reason, a human being, a former academic, pseudonymously named ‘timaeus,’ who could perhaps actually make a meaningful public contribution with his sharp tongue and cold wit, is rather playing the side of ‘devil’s freaky advocate against Darwin,’ when in the long-run, Darwin isn’t really that important. You people badly need to get over him and to find a better way forward in a post-Darwinian landscape. That’s a scenario that following IDist leaders will not provide you, but that others are already working on.

    And you folks are right; UD is not worth my time (or most other peoples’ time) and I should really stay away and leave you in peace. There’s too much propaganda and evangelical chumminess at UD and not enough knowledge, grace or even-handedness for my taste. And its dreadfully too empty of PoS. Perhaps I’ll drop in from time to time when you say things that are 2x or 3x over-the-top (because simply over-the-top is still quite ‘normal’ at UD) to intervene.

    For those of you who are decent and reasonable, my wish is for your speedy recovery from IDist-manifactured Expelled Syndrome. It is not necessarily as chronic or terminal as you may think it is. And there are people who can help!

    For those who are intentionally foolish (e.g. most YECs) and intellectually reprobate and who embrace Expelled Syndrome as willingly ‘scientific’ martyrs, well, as you like to say in America, “It’s a free country.” Thinking that you are ‘really revolutionaries’ probably won’t hurt too many people in the long-run.

    The death of IDism at the hands of Christians: “Univocal predication is impossible between God and creatures.”

  12. 12
    Timaeus says:


    Over at

    you opened #72 with this charming bit:

    “You’re a real a#%hole, timaeus. You intentionally put words into peoples’ mouths simply when they get the best of you. I find this behaviour disgusting and petty.”

    I will respond in that place to the charge you make there, but for the moment I merely wish to record that you made the charge, for you here seem to be guilty of exactly the same thing.

    In #6 above, I wrote:

    ‘ You could say: “Just as ID people have fleshed out the effects of divine design in nature, so I intend to flesh out the effects of human design in the social and political world.” ‘

    “You” of course meant “Gregory,” since I was addressing you, as the context made clear. The quotation that follows is something that I was suggesting that *you* (Gregory) might say. Which means that the “I” in the quotation represents Gregory, not Timaeus.

    Yet in #8 above, you insert [timaeus] in square brackets after “I,” and then indignantly say:

    “Pause and read this again folks, for it shows the naivety and foolishness tinged with reckless imagination and ideological arrogance of the person who posts under the pseudonym ‘timaeus’ at UD. He is feigning to ‘universalise’ IDism!!!”

    So, Gregory, you have put words in my mouth, misrepresenting my intention. Should I call you an “a–hole” for that? Should I infer that the misrepresentation was deliberate? Or should I infer only that you read hurriedly and carelessly?

    Your turn to apologize, Gregory.

    Of course my point, to anyone who was not reading carelessly and/or malignantly, was that ID people can go on trying to demonstrate design in nature, and Gregory can go on trying to characterize design in human affairs, without there being any conflict between the two operations. And it follows that Gregory should have no objection to what the ID people are doing, since they don’t get in his way.

    But he insists on getting in *their* way. He is unwilling to live and let live. He wants to tell them what they should and should not be doing in their own academic (math, biochemistry, etc.) fields, whereas he would resent it deeply if they told him what he should or should not be doing in his own academic field. So there is a double standard operating. Gregory gets to assign the activities to everyone else’s field, but no one gets to assign any activity to Gregory. Talk about imperialism!

    My counsel is a counsel of peace: let the natural scientists do what they are trained to do, and let the social scientists do what they are trained to do. Natural scientists investigate physical/chemical/biological nature. They therefore can rightfully ask whether design can be found in nature. Social scientists investigate social matters. They therefore can rightfully ask what role design plays in social matters. There is no reason why the two groups cannot peacefully co-exist, each respecting the other. But Gregory is not satisfied with co-existence. Gregory wants natural scientists to investigate only the aspects of nature that he deems it permissible for them to investigate. And he doesn’t deem it permissible for them to investigate whether or not there is design in nature. He thinks — “rules arbitrarily” would be a better expression than “thinks” — that questions of design or non-design are not in their province.

    Lest Gregory complain that I am putting words in his mouth, I will ask him to point out where he has *ever* granted the legitimacy of employing the results of natural science to make design inferences about nature. Not the *correctness* of the inferences — I’m not asking him to concede that. I’m asking him where he has ever conceded that it’s a legitimate question for scientists to ask — whether nature shows design — and to investigate in hopes of eliciting an answer. As far as I can see, he has done nothing but heap scorn on the entire project. And not just on Discovery’s handling of the project — on the project itself.

    If Gregory would say: “I [Gregory] think that it is perfectly legitimate for Behe, Meyer, etc. to hypothesize design in nature and look for scientific evidence to confirm it, but I don’t happen to be impressed by the evidence they’ve come up with so far” — I wouldn’t have the problem with Gregory that I do. But he imperializes. He says or implies that Behe, Meyer, etc. shouldn’t be doing what they are doing. He indicates that it is a wrong-headed activity that cannot hope to bear fruit. If I’m wrong, if I’ve misread Gregory — in which case I’ve got lots of company — let him offer a clear statement such as the one I’ve given at the beginning of this paragraph. Let him say that ID as conceived by Meyer, Behe, etc. is a legitimate project, even if he isn’t persuaded by its conclusions. Let him say that it is a reasonable and justifiable activity for scientists to ask whether there is design in nature and pursue that question with mathematical and laboratory investigations. Let him say that it is possible that the question has an affirmative answer, and that it is possible that design could be demonstrated by reasoning from the facts of nature. And let him says that such a demonstration, if produced, would prove that Dawkins, Coyne, etc. are wrong about nature. If he will say all of this, then he and I will be in agreement.

  13. 13
    Timaeus says:

    In #11 above Gregory has the chutzpah to invoke against me a number of people:

    “I have repeatedly shown IDism’s scientistic unbelievability for Abrahamic believers. Stephen Barr and Francis Beckwith have shown this, Ted Davis and George Murphy have shown this, Owen Gingerich has shown this, Ed Feser has shown this … and countless others outside of the American context.”

    Gregory does not mention that he has had multiple and ferocious disagreements with Ted Davis and George Murphy over both theology and natural science, and that their positions have almost nothing in common with his; he does not mention that he still has not answered the direct question posed to him long ago, i.e., “Have you actually read Gingerich, Gregory, or are you going on hearsay?”; he does not mention that Feser’s arguments are in direct contradiction with those of Steve Fuller which he has elsewhere here endorsed. He also does not mention that Beckwith turned tail when confronted here by an army of quotations from Thomas Aquinas, marshaled by Vincent Torley, which proved many of Beckwith’s claims quite wrong. He also does not mention that Barr (whom I quite like, by the way) is a physicist who dabbles in philosophy and theology, and whose views on Christianity and science have no weight whatsoever in serious academic circles, as opposed to in magazines like First Things and other popular venues.

    But aside from all these suppressed details, note that the above response is typical of Gregory: to argue from authority rather than from reason and evidence. Instead of showing that ID is not a tenable theory because the evidence does not support the claim of design in nature — which is the proper academic way of refuting a theory — he appeals to great names who think the theory is nonsense — which is the vulgar, popular way of refuting a theory. No trained academic should employ such vulgar means to win an argument.

    I’ve asked Gregory repeatedly to walk me through No Free Lunch, Darwin’s Black Box, Signature in the Cell, etc. and show me what is wrong with the argument in the books. He has repeatedly refused to engage. Instead, he cites great names at me. I can only infer that he is not capable of debating *just the books* with me. Not the motivations of their authors, not the agenda of the Discovery Institute — just the arguments in the books. So his rejection of ID arguments is based on secondhand knowledge — the opinions of others — instead of his own knowledge of the relevant science. This discounts his critique, as one that is entirely derivative. If all Gregory can say about the science is: “I agree with Barr” or “I agree with Gingerich” I might as well read Barr or Gingerich, not Gregory.

  14. 14
    Timaeus says:

    Gregory writes:

    ‘ The death of IDism at the hands of Christians: “Univocal predication is impossible between God and creatures.” ‘

    This is Feser’s position. If Gregory believes this, then he *must* believe that the central pillar of Steve Fuller’s position is wrong. But though he has been asked many times here how he squares his agreement with Feser with his alleged agreement with Fuller, he will not answer. And he can’t have merely missed the question. He might have missed seeing it once, maybe even twice. But not several times. He’s ducking it.

    You can’t have it both ways, Gregory. You must choose between Fuller’s idea of God and Feser’s idea of God. Feser is very clear that the two ideas are incompatible. So choose.

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