Culture Education

Christine Shellska: “Discovering the Discovery Institute” (NOT)

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An entire PhD dissertation about the Discovery Institute is being put together by Christine Shellska. Her claim is:

I argue that the Discovery Institute has “rebranded” creationism as ID, and that its strategies include attempts to disrupt the translation of evolution into education and the broader public.

Discovering the Discovery Institute

Some problems with her thesis:

1. “creation science” was the term used in the book Pandas and People and later changed to “intelligent design”. Even presuming purely for the sake of argument the change to from “creation science” to “intelligent design” was for nefarious purposes, that name change cannot be attributed to the Discovery Institute since they weren’t the publisher this work or any other such work (at least that I know of).

2. “creation science” even as used in Pandas and People is not the same as the “creation science” that was the subject of the Edwards and Aguillard Case which effectively banned the teaching of “creation science”. There is a problem of equivocating what “creation science” actually means:

From Wiki:

The main ideas in creation science are: the belief in “creation ex nihilo”; the conviction that the Earth was created within the last 10,000 years; the belief that mankind and other life on Earth were created as distinct fixed “baraminological” kinds; and the idea that fossils found in geological strata were deposited during a cataclysmic flood which completely covered the entire Earth.[6] As a result, creation science also challenges the geologic and astrophysical evidence for the age and origins of Earth and Universe, which creation scientists acknowledge are irreconcilable to the account in the Book of Genesis.[4]

whereas in the earlier version of Pandas and People creation is:

Creation means that various forms of life began abruptly through the agency of an intelligent Creator with their distinctive features already intact—fish with fins and scales, birds with feathers, beaks, and wings, etc

So arguably, the “creation science” in Pandas and People is not really the same “creation science” in the Edwards and Aguillard case. And in fact, elements of the modern version of Intelligent Design can be argued to be “anti-creationist” (which is my next point).

3. There has definitely been a strong paper trail that ID is different from tradition creationism as creationism is defined by Edwards vs. Aguillard. One only need look at the relevant literature to see the distinctive differences and disagreements. For example, the celebrated ID work Privileged Planet is based on a very different cosmology than Young Earth Creationism. This can’t be attributed to some sort of “rebranding” or stealth creationism. In fact, some YECs would argue that Privileged Planet is anti-creationist in as much as YECs argue the stars and planets were created, not evolved! So to be accurate, ID (as described in Pandas and People) has been rebranded to have some anti-creationist elements. These nuances are not mentioned in her work so far, but it is not too late for her to make corrections (if she is willing).

Again, Christine says:

I argue that the Discovery Institute has “rebranded” creationism as ID, and that its strategies include attempts to disrupt the translation of evolution into education and the broader public.

If she said “disrupt the translation of the falsehoods of evolution into education and the broader public” that would be a more accurate statement. Even assuming purely for the sake of argument that the motivations by the Discovery Institute are nefarious, there are evolutionary falsehoods going into education and the broader public that are called out in the scientific literature but prevented from reaching educational institutions and the broader public.

Her work doesn’t strike me as being malicious so much as being deeply misinformed (She confesses she relies on Josh Rosenau and PZ Myers for her information.) From her writings, she seems temperate and polite. There is no hint of the sort of invective that is usually put forward by Darwinists. However, her thesis needs to account for some nuances. If she hasn’t already, she would do well to actually interview the leaders of the Discovery Institute! I mean, after all her dissertation is about the Discovery Institute. Scholarship would demand better standards than rehashing second-hand biased information from Josh Rosenau and PZ Myers.

65 Replies to “Christine Shellska: “Discovering the Discovery Institute” (NOT)

  1. 1
    Joe says:

    Someone should do a dissertation on evolutionism being atheism. Or is that so obvious that it doesn’t require one?

  2. 2
    JoeCoder says:

    “Islam is just rebranded Christianity, which is itself just rebranded Judaism. They’re all the same thing.”

  3. 3
    scordova says:

    This whole think came about because I was investigating ThunderF00t’s claims about a T-shirt scandal.

    At the TAM 2012 meeting where Eugenie Scott, Michael Shermer, and Christine Shellska made presentations, there was a big scandal about a T-shirt that Harriet Hall wore which said:

    I feel safe and welcome at TAM

    Here is the photo of the scandaloous T-shirt:
    I feel safe

    Feminist atheist and skepchick (aka anti-creationist pinup girl) Amy Roth took offense to the T-shirt saying it was dehumanizing.

    PZ Myers apparently (without naming Roth by name) described the effect of the T-shirt this way:

    I now know of one woman who was so harassed she had to leave the meeting early

    Er….Amy Roth sees a T-shirt that says, “I feel safe” and is feeling harassed? PZ logic at its best.

    HT Thunderf00t:

    He rocks. See Thunderf00t’s description of all the lunacy happinging among the “rationalists” at TAM 2012 where Shellska and Eugenie Scott try to describe the evils of ID. Too funny:
    Feminist Reduced to Tears by T-shirt

  4. 4
    scordova says:

    I now know of one woman who was so harassed she had to leave the meeting early

    PZ Myers

    That’s an example of why Shellska should be reluctant to rely on PZ as an authority. He’s not exactly showing :

    1. unbiased reporting
    2. critical thinking

    And this merely over a T-shirt, how much more can he be inaccurate regarding other matters. That is not just my opinion but the opinion of a lot of skeptics who called PZ out on his latest.

  5. 5
    Gregory says:

    “ID (as described in Pandas and People) has been rebranded to have some anti-creationist elements.”

    What ‘anti-creationist elements’ of ID do you mean? Just because some YEC’s say so doesn’t make it true.

    You’re a self-professed ‘creationist’ and obviously feel comfortable under the ID umbrella. The ‘anti-creationist elements’ are clearly not very strong, if they are even explicit at all in ID theory.

    “If she hasn’t already, she would do well to actually interview the leaders of the Discovery Institute! I mean, after all her dissertation is about the Discovery Institute.”

    Chapman, Meyer, West, et al. surely wouldn’t grant her an interview. That’s the PR game involved with the IDM.

  6. 6
    kairosfocus says:


    Please read the definition of ID here at UD, and the weak argument correctives. They are top this and every UD page. Then, compare actual Creationist sites such as AiG: “Creation, Evolution, Christian Apologetics” and ICR:

    “the Institute for Creation Research has equipped believers with evidence of the Bible’s accuracy and authority through scientific research, educational programs, and media presentations, all conducted within a thoroughly biblical framework.”

    If you still equate the two, you are being willfully irresponsible.

    Next, I observe Ms Shellska’s F/b page:

    Proponents of intelligent design (ID) argue that the origins of life can be better attributed to an intelligent cause rather than to evolutionary processes.

    [a –> Nope, that things with features such as CSI or IC are per induction, consistently designed and that per needle in haystack analysis there is good reason on the gamut of the solar system or observed cosmos. Life exhibits such signs, and in absence of observationally well warranted dynamics to form these features without intelligence, is best explained as designed. OOL is a particularly important case as origin of the von Neumann self replication facility is antecedent to cell based life as we know it.]

    The phrase was coined in 1987

    [b –> the PHRASE traces to remarks by Hoyle in the early 80’s, and possibly others, with antecedents for centuries. the more important concept traces through the likes of Newton to Cicero and Plato. the first ID technical work was TMLO, 1984.]

    to replace the term “creation science,”

    [c –> Tendentious, accusatory in the teeth of good explanations otherwise for usage in Pandas and people which is NOT a technical work]

    after US Supreme Court Justice William Rehnquist ruled that teaching creationism in public schools was in violation of the Constitution. While the scientific and legal communities recognize its religious underpinnings and reject ID,

    [d –> Appeal to questionable, ideologically dominated consensus in teeth of relevant facts.]

    strategies to discredit evolution

    [e –> Design theory is not opposite to “evolution,” up to and including universal common descent [cf. Behe etc] but points out the defects of imposed a priori evolutionary materialism as a censoring constraint on the science of origins]

    and position it as a theory in crisis

    [f –> Denton’s view is here backed up by want of pivotal evidence of the proposed wholly unintelligent mechanism to create CSI, and with particular reference to the origin of gated, encapsulated, metabolic automata using von Neumann self replication facilities dependent on internally stored coded digital info]

    have successfully influenced a significant percentage of the broader public, as well as many influential politicians and academics, who have been persuaded to accept ID is a valid scientific alternative to evolution.

    [g –> This serves to change subjects from the pivotal scientific issue to a loaded strawman distortion. Is Ms Shellska giving an eval of the technical case, on what grounds, or is she assuming that a given school must be right and is then reframing the issue as an ideological contest.]

    This is PhD research? In what field, under what supervision, in what University?

    The answers are illuminating and disappointing for one who has a generally high opinion of Commonwealth universities:

    Christine M. Shellska is a PhD student in the Department of Communication and Culture in the Faculty of Arts at the University of Calgary. She is currently researching the communication strategies the Discovery Institute is using to position intelligent design as a scientific theory. She has recently spoken on this topic at the Atheists Without Borders conference in Montreal, the Essays in the Philosophy of Humanism symposium at the 70th Annual AHA conference in Boston, and the Apeiron Society for the Practice of Philosophy’s Annual Symposium in Kananaskis.

    Along with Dr. Marcia Epstein, Christine is also involved in an initiative to represent the community of atheists, agnostics, freethinkers, humanists, skeptics and others who identify as non-religious at the Multi-Faith Chaplaincy on campus.

    This is an ideological hit piece in the guise of research. An arts student will not normally be in a position to evaluate a technical scientific case on a controversial matter, even if she has some phil and history of sci. Communication strategies have little or nothing to do with it.

    A sad day for Commonwealth learning.


  7. 7
    scordova says:

    What ‘anti-creationist elements’ of ID do you mean?

    You obviously missed it, so I’ll repeat:

    Privileged Planet is anti-creationist in as much as YECs argue the stars and planets were created, not evolved!

    Privileged planet pre-supposes planetary and galactic evolution, not planetary and galactic special creation.


    Chapman, Meyer, West, et al. surely wouldn’t grant her an interview. That’s the PR game involved with the IDM.

    Even if true, it appears Shellska hasn’t attempted to contact the Discovery Institute. I’ve asked around and so far no one even heard of her until I raised the issue. She has some scholarly obligation to at least try to get in touch with them.

  8. 8
    kairosfocus says:

    PS: My son just advised me to be plain. Ms Shellska, you don’t have the relevant technical qualifications (much less facts) to speak with credibility on this matter. Please, think again.

  9. 9
    Gregory says:

    Although I’m not defending Ms. Shellska and disagree significantly with her approach, it is conceivable that “communication strategies of the Discovery Institute” could serve as the basis for a PhD dissertation. There is undoubtedly enough literature and materials publically available over the past 16 years to conduct a thorough study of this topic. Whether or not she will and how ideologically slanted it will be is another story.

    If she contacts the DI, will the DI grant her an interview? Likely not. (And I wouldn’t if I were them either.) So she will be required to use evidence from media sources and from colleagues, including their e-mails with DI leaders, to gather the necessary information about the DI’s ‘communication strategies’.

    “Privileged planet pre-supposes planetary and galactic evolution, not planetary and galactic special creation.”

    Thank you. That’s enough of an explanation. *Any* evolution seems to be too much for a ‘special creationist’. Even if it is not ‘evolutionistic’.

  10. 10
    johnnyb says:

    So, Gregory, what is your definition of creationism? By some definitions, all Christians would be creationists. By others, only a few. That’s one of the problems with the word – it doesn’t really specify anything specific, it is just used as a generic boogeyman.

  11. 11
    kairosfocus says:


    Comm strategies of DI could — in the abstract — serve as a topic for research, but this is not that.

    She embeds a decision about science and scientific issues she has no credible basis to judge as regards its warrant. She multiplies such by assertions that are historically or factually questionable or outright demonstrably false (though ideologically welcomed in the milieu her F/b page indicates).

    I notice too SC’s comment on failure to contact principals on the matter, with concern. If this is confirmed, that would be a serious matter indeed.


  12. 12
    kairosfocus says:

    PS: I would let her interview under independent taping and legal oversight, so no monkey business games can be played.

  13. 13
    kairosfocus says:

    PPS: are you aware that there are Design Theorists who accept universal common descent, e.g. Behe?

  14. 14
    Gregory says:


    My definition of ‘creationists’ is that they are ideologues. I wouldn’t call all Christians ‘creationists,’ because not all Christians are ideologues. As consistent with Abrahamic theology, I belive in creativity and in creation; this doesn’t make me a ‘creationist’ and it is one of the labels I reject and would never accept.

    Creationism is not just a boogeyman; it is ideology in general that scares Americans, mainly because of Karl Marx. There’s a lot of ‘getting over it’ and ‘learning to understand it’ still to come in the USA with regard to ideology, including the ideology of ‘creationism.’ You need more developed social sciences, other than T. Parsons’ ‘evolutionism’ to persuade and educate you.

    p.s. yes, I’m aware of that, KF

  15. 15
    scordova says:

    Shellska seems to have used Kitmziller vs. Dover for most of her source material.

    Below is a sample of how, according to her, the Discovery Institute “disprupts” transmission of evolution to the public. These “disruptive” communications also address some of her points.

    In my own biased opinion, I think the Discovery Institute has some of the most skillful communicators I’ve ever witnessed. Sharp, scholarly, and very polished. Here is an example of the shaprness and polish from the first link below:

    For example, biologist Kenneth Miller, one of the plaintiffs’ expert witnesses, conceded on the witness
    stand that he was a creationist when “creationist” is understood to mean anyone who believes that the universe was created by God. Yet clearly it would be misleading to call Miller—an avowed evolution proponent—a “creationist.”

    See below for more of these “disruptive” techniques used by the Discovery Institute.

    But she is mistaken that it is all about the Discovery Institute. What about organizations like Illustra Media? Or Foundation for Thought and Ethics? Or even InterVarsity Press? Or ARN? Or say, in the present day The Evolution Informatics Lab? Or the now non-existent Polanyi Center? Or the host of independent writers like Michael Denton, Robert Jastrow, John Barrow or Fred Hoyle? The narrative that the DI was responsible for ID is not defensible. She might want to revise her thesis….

    Most ironic, some of these organizations were listed in Barbara Forrests book, Creationism’s Trojan Horse.

    Anyway, here is a link to some of the DI’s “disruptive” instruments:

    * “Intelligent Design Will Survive Kitzmiller v. Dover,” by David DeWolf, John West, and Casey Luskin; Montana Law Review, 68:7 (Winter, 2007);

    * “Dover in Review” by John West;

    * Traipsing Into Evolution, by David DeWolf, John West, Casey Luskin, and Jonathan Witt;

    * “Whether Intelligent Design is Science: A Response to the Opinion of the Court in Kitzmiller vs Dover Area School District,” by Michael Behe;

    * “Do Car Engines Run on Lugnuts? A Response to Ken Miller & Judge Jones’s Straw Tests of Irreducible Complexity for the Bacterial Flagellum,” by Casey Luskin

    * “How Kenneth Miller Used Smoke-and-Mirrors at Kitzmiller to Misrepresent Michael Behe on the Irreducible Complexity of the Blood-Clotting Cascade,” by Casey Luskin

    *”The NCSE, Judge Jones, and Citation Bluffs About the Origin of New Functional Genetic Information,” by Casey Luskin.

  16. 16
    scordova says:

    My definition of ‘creationists’ is that they are ideologues

    Er..Gregory, that’s not a defintion, that might be the way you characterize them, but that is not a definition.

    A definitions would take the form of:

    “A creationist is defined as someone who believes….”

  17. 17
    Gregory says:

    “A creationist is defined as someone who is an ideologue.”

  18. 18
    sergiomendes says:

    would not creationism be that God the Creator made all things existing, heaven and earth, if by direct word or by indirect processes? if all living things created individually or descent from like kinds, all are still creation?


  19. 19
    scordova says:

    My definition of ‘creationists’ is that they are ideologues

    By the way, Gregory, thanks for attempting to respond to JohnnyB’s question. But you seem to not appreciate to this day that the way you communicate is insulting, not to mention, you didn’t really answer JohnnyB’s question.

    You did it at ARN. You describe people to their face in insulting terms. You did so to JohnnyB who asked you a question politely.

    Even if you believe in your heart that someone is this or that, it’s not polite to fire off veiled insults to their face.

  20. 20
    Maus says:

    From Shellska: “I argue that the Discovery Institute has “rebranded” creationism as ID, …”

    And Kepler “rebranded” epicycles as ellipses.

    From scordova: “There is a problem of equivocating what “creation science” actually means:”

    “Creation science” is a philosophical commitment to origins. No more and no less than current Cosmology or Evolution. It is only equivocation if you are under the misunderstanding that by ‘Evolution’ they mean a scientific theory, complete with falsifiable predictions, and not an umbrella notion of ‘which’ ‘creation science’ is ‘The Creation Science’.

    But then if they meant a scientific theory they would hardly have their knickers in a twist about apostates and heretics.

    From kairosfocus: “Ms Shellska, you don’t have the relevant technical qualifications (much less facts) to speak with credibility on this matter.”

    Argumentum ad Hominem. Your initial response was good, but you should make an effort to leave ‘warrant’ and other Bayesian fallacies at the door.

    Specifically there’s a good need to ensure that people are aware that if ‘Rehnquist’ or any other justice states that any philosophical commitment is ‘permissible’ to teach then the judgement reached is not that ‘religion’ shall not be taught. But that the state approved religion may or must be taught. Good for States that have an ‘official’ religion such as Iran, or last I was aware, then UK. Not so good in nations in which there is to be a separation between government and religion. Or any other thought crime.

  21. 21
    scordova says:

    “A creationist is defined as someone who is an ideologue.”

    LOL! By that definition commie sociologist ideologues are creationists.

  22. 22
    Gregory says:

    By that definition, commie sociologist ideologues are commie sociologist ideologues. Thankfully, however, they are not ‘creationists.’

    These are not ‘veiled insults,’ Salvador. I speak as someone who has studied ideology more thoroughly than *anyone* in the IDM. Simply I am telling you that ‘creationists’ are ‘ideologues.’ That includes you, since you’ve labelled yourself as a ‘creationist’.

    To connect with the other thread: you being a ‘creationist’ extends from you accepting (as true, real, right, justified, etc.) creationist ideology.

    If you take that as insulting, that’s on you, not on me – you are insulting yourself by consciously taking an ideologue’s label. (It would be similar if I called you a Clippers fan, given that you cheer for the Clippers, have season’s tickets and argue with anyone who down-talks the Clippers about how great the Clippers are.) The insult is not in what I say if those are the facts and what you choose to believe.

    Drop the ideology of ‘creationism’ and you will cease to be a ‘creationist ideologue;’ it’s that simple, Sal. But you likely think that means you would have to ‘give up faith in God,’ according to your view of religion and the pressure of your local church community. You don’t seem to understand the power of creationist ideology mixing with your (personal) religion. So, there’s a real dilemma.

    There was nothing insulting meant in my cordial reply to johnnyb. It was unemotional and scholarly. An expression of fact and opinion informed by studying ideology and having lived and breathed with its remnants. ‘Creationism’ is a textbook example of ideology.

    Now, do you want to apologise to me for calling me a ‘commie sociologist ideologue’? A ‘commie’ I most surely am not.


  23. 23
    scordova says:

    do you want to apologise to me for calling me a ‘commie sociologist ideologue’?

    I didn’t call you that. So no apology from me.

    So what sort of ideologue are you? I’m happy to make clear from now on what sort of idealogue you are.

  24. 24
    tjguy says:

    The traditional usage and meaning of the term “creationist” is quite clear. Anyone interested and open to the truth can easily figure it out. Ask any creationist and they will tell you. Ask any IDer and they will tell you. There is a difference between the two.

    Most IDers believe in some kind of Creator, but that has nothing to do with their science.

    The only difference between IDers and non-ID evolutionists is that non-ID evolutionists rule out any role for the supernatural from the beginning and look for purely natural causes for the universe no matter how difficult the problem they face, while ID scientists recognize the implications of design and are willing to consider a role for the involvement of an outside Intelligence.

    Creationists start with a clear bias, just like non-ID evolutionists. Instead of rejecting a role for a Creator in the emergence of life, true Creationists begin with the axiom that God did create the world ex-nihilo – most believing that took place in the recent past.

    Yes, if you re-define the term creationist to mean anyone open to the role of a Creator in the origin of life, then IDers can be called creationists, but there is a big difference between true creationists and IDers.

    I’m a “true creationist” so I should know. I don’t view IDers as creationists. Some even believe in common descent! That is a far cry from creationism.

    It is telling that evolutionists simply ignore the truth and make up their own definition to suit their needs that allows them to characterize both creationists and IDers with that horrible brand of “creationist”.

    It is actually quite a smart strategy as the horror that people feel towards creationists is now channeled towards IDers as well simply because of the re-branding and new use of the baggage-loaded word “creationist”.

  25. 25
    Gregory says:

    I will if you will, Salvador. You have already admitted that you are a ‘creationist.’ I have suggested to you that ‘creationists’ are ‘ideologues.’ Do you admit then that you are a ‘creationist ideologue’ because all creationists are ideologues?

    I have a feeling you haven’t a clue about what ‘ideology’ means or how it influences you. So, if you decide to admit to me only a pseudo-ideology, it won’t be a fair trade. Tell me you are a ‘creationist ideologue’ and I’ll tell you what kind of ideologue I am (and it’s not an evolutionist or Darwinist!).

    You may be happy to make clear what sort of ideologue I am, but are you equally ready to make clear what sort of ideologue you are?

    Most, if not all sociologists are ideologically committed or biased. That is not a secret (it is less secretive than for most other scientists/scholars, who are also inevitably ideologically committed and biased). But asking a personal question of which ideological committments or biases a given sociologist has is another story.

  26. 26
    Joe says:

    John Morris, president of the Institute for Creation Research, says:

    “The differences between Biblical creationism and the IDM should become clear. As an unashamedly Christian/creationist organization, ICR is concerned with the reputation of our God and desires to point all men back to Him. We are not in this work merely to do good science, although this is of great importance to us. We care that students and society are brainwashed away from a relationship with their Creator/Savior. While all creationists necessarily believe in intelligent design, not all ID proponents believe in God. ID is strictly a non-Christian movement, and while ICR values and supports their work, we cannot join them.”-

    All Creationists are IDists but not all IDists are Creationists, well unless you redefine “Creationist”. But then again the only way to make ID anti-evolution is to redefine “evolution”.

  27. 27
    scordova says:

    Dictionary definition:


    an often blindly partisan advocate or adherent of a particular ideology

    Gregory, even if (for the sake of argument) someone is blind, you’re rude for insinuating people to their face they are blind, especially JohnnyB.

    You’re manners stink Gregory, for a social “scientist”, you rarely demonstrated social graces toward ID proponents. You try to psychoanalyze them to their face. That’s plain rude.

  28. 28
    Maus says:

    scordova, I hate to step between you two lovebirds, but Gregory has the right of it by function. And you have the right of it by perjorative emotional connotations.

    If the importation of emotion is the showstopper for you then simply replace ‘ideology’ with ‘philosophy’ and ‘ideologue’ with ‘philosophical commitment’. And then reread Gregory’s posts.

    Does the difference matter? Only if you wish to be an ideologue about the word ‘ideologue’.

  29. 29
    Robert Byers says:

    In saying iD is rebranded creationism is a ACCUSATION that iD is dishonest in its identity.
    Its just a old accusation . Nothing new here.
    Then its also saying that since YEC etc creationism is wrong and bad then ID being these folks makes ID bad too.

    ID is clear in who and what it is.
    Call her on this accusation about the motives and so character of ID folks!!
    Words matter.
    ID is based on ideas, criticisms, and conclusions like anything else.
    ID is not YEC.
    Nail these critics on their malicious or ignorant accusations.
    if they want prestige then they should rebrand their point of view.
    She is calling ID ‘ers LIARS!
    Plead not guilty and accuse her of incompetence or dishonesty.

  30. 30
    johnnyb says:

    ““A creationist is defined as someone who is an ideologue.””

    So Richard Dawkins is a creationist? Who knew?

    Seriously, if you want to offer up a definition, you should, but the definition you offer has nothing to do with creationism. Should we then brand Joseph Stalin a creationist as well?

  31. 31
    scordova says:

    If the importation of emotion is the showstopper for you then simply replace ‘ideology’ with ‘philosophy’ and ‘ideologue’ with ‘philosophical commitment’. And then reread Gregory’s posts.

    But Maus, why do you rebuke me, and not Gregory? Your criticism is hardly equitable. You could say, “Gregory, you better rephrase your comments, you’re adding needless distraction. Re-write what your wrote.”

  32. 32
    scordova says:

    Should we then brand Joseph Stalin a creationist as well?

    Or how about Mao Tse Tung? Good one johnnyb!

  33. 33
    Maus says:

    scordova: “But Maus, why do you rebuke me, and not Gregory? Your criticism is hardly equitable.”

    Absolutely correct, I expect more of you than him. The both of you will take that however your prefer.

  34. 34
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: From Shellska’s slideshow:

    Views From Which Science Proceeds

    Methodological naturalism

    We acquire knowledge by looking for natural causes and effects

    Appeals to the supernatural are unnecessary or irrelevant to explain natural phenomena . . . .

    ID Spin on Naturalism

    It is not broad enough in scope because it fails to accommodate evidence of intelligence

    Biased against evidence of a designer

    The dominant paradigm in science


    Viewpoint discrimination!

    Be skeptical about evolution!

    Think critically about how naturalism restricts academic freedom!

    Teach the controversy!

    Problems (reflective of a lack of background to address objectively and substantially on the merits — which here is not an ad hom evasion of issue by attacking person, it is saying that something is wrong with the project undertaken by S and her department which will ultimately not reflect well on a uni I have had dealings with and have had reason to like and respect):

    1 –> From Plato The Laws Bk X on, the key alternative has been nature (= chance and necessity vs ART-ificial) so this is not latterday spin.

    2 –> It can be inductively shown and backed up by needle in haystack analysis similar to what grounds stat form of 2nd law of thermo-D, that there are characteristic signs of mechanical necessity, stochastic contingency and choice contingency that under those circumstances can be reliably empirically observed. (Think (a) a coin falls like other heavy objects when released, (b) 501 coins in a line in no particular H/T order and with H:T near 1:1, (c) 501 coins in a line arranged to spell out the first 73 or so characters of this post in ASCII code. Ask, why we see as different?)

    3 –> So we do not ONLY acquire knowledge by looking for natural causes and effects, but for INTELLIGENT causes and effects too, e.g. forensic investigations are a common case, which do use scientific methods as a matter of routine.

    4 –> The design inference is NOT an appeal to the supernatural, that is B Forrest’s/NCSE’s/ACLU’s irresponsibly false talking point — copied, errors and all by Judge Jones at Dover.

    5 –> We are only entitled to eliminate a possible intelligent cause if we know already that no intelligence was possible at the point of causation, which in this case begs the question (and the atheistical milieu at work in S’s case easily shows why this is going on).

    6 –> So, a strawman backed up by question begging has been erected

    7 –> The DI objection regarding question begging is sustained on examination.

    8 –> That methodological naturalism is currently dominant in science of origins, only says that we have a current orthodoxy. For over 1,000 years, Ptolemaic astronomy was reigning orthodoxy, one backed by considerable evidence and invested talent. It was capable of good enough predictions, just it kept getting more and more complex. It was overthrown on further investigations, but not without a few famous scientific-political fights (they are often miscast as sci vs religion). But, appeals to the reigning orthodoxy can be quite persuasive, to those who are in a milieu that makes that appealing. As we are seeing, in ever so many ways for this case.

    9 –> In addition, precisely because the past of origins is unobservable, the degree of warrant* attaching to theories of origins is inherently lower than that attaching to investigations of the current world as a going concern. So, it is entirely appropriate to call for a philosophically and historically literate presentation of the limitations and controversies for such cases, in the wider context of the same for scientific methods in general.

    10 –> Notice, Newton’s frank admissions on limitations in Principia, his Rules of thought in science, and in Opticks, Query 31. The latter, being written in English so accessible to the ordinary man.


    *PS: M, FYI, warrant is not a “bayesian” term as such, it is primarily brought up in the context of Gettier counter-examples to “knowledge is justified, true belief,” which led to a need for a distinction in terms that allows an indication of objective grounding of knowledge claims. It is possible to have a justified and true belief that is not properly a case of knowledge.

  35. 35
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N 2: S, slide 27, immediately following the above:

    Views From Which Science Proceeds


    All that exists is composed of matter

    Consequently, there is no spiritual component to reality

    1 –> A priori, Lewontinian materialism, in so many words. (See how this is a real problem, not a made-up one?)

    2 –> Fails to understand that materialism is a questionable worldview, on phil terms, much less that it is not a proper a priori for doing science.

    3 –> For just one instance, Haldane:

    “It seems to me immensely unlikely that mind is a mere by-product of matter. For if my mental processes are determined wholly by the motions of atoms in my brain I have no reason to suppose that my beliefs are true. They may be sound chemically, but that does not make them sound logically. And hence I have no reason for supposing my brain to be composed of atoms.” [“When I am dead,” in Possible Worlds: And Other Essays [1927], Chatto and Windus: London, 1932, reprint, p.209.]

    4 –> S’s approach begs for Johnson’s retort to Lewontin, in First Things, in 1997:

    For scientific materialists the materialism comes first; the science comes thereafter. [[Emphasis original] We might more accurately term them “materialists employing science.” And if materialism is true, then some materialistic theory of evolution has to be true simply as a matter of logical deduction, regardless of the evidence. That theory will necessarily be at least roughly like neo-Darwinism, in that it will have to involve some combination of random changes and law-like processes capable of producing complicated organisms that (in Dawkins’ words) “give the appearance of having been designed for a purpose.”

    . . . . The debate about creation and evolution is not deadlocked . . . Biblical literalism is not the issue. The issue is whether materialism and rationality are the same thing. Darwinism is based on an a priori commitment to materialism, not on a philosophically neutral assessment of the evidence. Separate the philosophy from the science, and the proud tower collapses. [[Emphasis added.] [[The Unraveling of Scientific Materialism, First Things, 77 (Nov. 1997), pp. 22 – 25.]


  36. 36
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N 3: Slide 28 (strawman):

    ID Spin on Materialism

    It is a threatto morality!

    Nazism! Stalinism! Eugenics!

    1 –> The basic problems with materialism as a phil view have already been highlighted and/or linked, i.e. it is self-referential, and incoherent in accounting for the credibility of the human mind, in many ways.

    2 –> In addition, there are longstanding moral concerns about materialism’s inherent lack of a worldview foundational IS that can objectively ground OUGHT, which opens the door to nihilism and its notion that might and manipulation make ‘right.’

    3 –> Arguably, S is carrying out such an exercise in manipulation, through she probably is unaware/ unduly dismissive of the underlying issues.

    4 –> A key source for such is Plato’s warning in The laws, Bk X, c. 360 BC, not DI c 1996 on, and the relevant first exemplar is Alcibiades and co as influenced by the then avant garde sophists of Athens.

    5 –> As for the influences of Darwinism and the milieu it helped foster on social darwinism, the eugenics movement, stalinism and the like, this is a matter of well documented historical record, not debate clip dismissals.

    6 –> For instance cf chs 5 – 7 of Darwin’s Descent of Man to see his own social darwinism. Galton, his cousin founded eugenics, and CRD’s family for decades was closely involved. Eugenics was only discredited after, following WW II, the Nazi abuses were evident to all. Horrific abuses continued to the 1950’s at least, in countries all around the world, including Canada as D O’L has pointed out regarding native american peoples.

    7 –> A reading of the thought in Germany from Haeckel on, and culminating in Mein Kampf — the struggle therein being darwinian, with no more piry for inferior “races” that in anticipation will not be “favoured” in the “struggle” for existence than cats have for mice or foxes geese [I allude here to the subtitle of Origin and to a very specific passage in MK] — will suffice to show the warrant for the influences that say Weikart has highlighted. There is a well known testimony on the influences on Stalin as well.

    8 –> In the case of Germany, it should be noted that Hitler seems to have absorbed the propaganda and milieu of the WW I German military machine, and followed the examples set in the now notorious Rape of Belgium [the area in which he served and seems to have fathered a love child by a young French girl . . . ], and the earlier massacre of native peoples in Namibia by German overlords. In the case of Belgium, the people of Zaire may be pardoned a thought or two that Belgium received what it had earlier dished out in that part of Africa.

    9 –> In short, there is significant reason to be sufficiently concerned to point tot he inherent amorality of evolutionary materialism, and to indicate how it repeatedly opens the door way for nihilists and opportunists. For the past 2400 years.

    10 –> However, this is a science in society point, not the focal issue of whether it is appropriate to impose materialism on science as a controlling a priori. This issue needs to be settled first, then materialism as ideology and as a potential gateway to great harm, can be addressed as a second order question. Which, note, is the approach I have taken.


  37. 37
    Maus says:

    kairosfocus: Good stuff, I’ll bullet point the same for the responses in the sake of brevity.

    1.2 -> No argument against the notion. But neither is it dispositive of the other camp. It’s a system with feedback no matter the case so we should not expect much in the way of analytical functions or curves.

    1.5 -> I take this as an objection to Rationalism. If so, great. If not, great. Though if the latter case then I’m uncertain if you’re speaking to logical impossibilities or some other notion.

    1.8.1 -> Methodological Naturalism does not preclude the supernatural. It precludes an pretense to the demonstration of causes that have no physical, and thus instrumentally verifiable, causation. This largely intersects the previous mention of Rationalism.

    1.8.2 -> Thomas Kuhn deserves mention here.

    1.9 -> Agreed generally with this point and the statement that JTB is not necessarily knowledge. Hairy topic, so this will be brief to the point of being likely obtuse. If it can be communicated one to another with demonstration and with nothing said beyond the needs of the demonstration then it satisfies the notion of ‘warrant’ as described. But ‘warrant’ as used fails to distinguish itself (to the limit of my awareness on it) from JTB upon any well defined notion. Efforts to distinguish one from the other make common misuse of Bayesian notions and clairvoyant reaching or other implicit priors snuck in the backdoor. If none of this is relevant, then have at and ignore.

    2.1 -> Lewontian Materialism is Metaphysical Narcissism cloaked as Methodological Naturalism. No objection. Broadly, if it’s empirical it’s science, if it is not it is philosophy.

    2.3 -> Red Herring on Haldane’s part. There’s no reason to suppose any beliefs are capital-T True. They are personally useful or unuseful. Requires prior knowledge of what it unknown.

    2.4 -> Johnson’s point is the same as what I’m after in response to 2.1.

  38. 38
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N 4: S should be aware that secular and secularIST are not equivalent terms. A secular institution is one not controlled by a Church. A secularist entity in our day is one controlled by an anti-God perception of the world. It is possible to be secular and to make reference to God. On a related point, the focus of the US Constitution in Amdt 1 (passed with the main document and as a condition of its acceptance, as part of the Bill of Rights insisted on by the public) was to secure freedoms, and in part by ruling out the existence of a church of the USA, a federal level landeskirke. There were state level established churches in I believe 9 of the founding 13 states, though across time these were disestablished. In short, the establishment of religion clause (properly understood) blocked a Church of the USA, by contrast with the Church of England’s tendency to want to impose itself over Scotland etc. In short, we see here an extension of the 1648 Westphalia principle of the religion of the specific territory follows that of its ruler, to republican circumstances. And BTW, both the US DOI of 1776 and the Constitution of 1787 are secular documents, but make favourable reference to God. The former four times, including in the pivotal 2nd paragraph, the latter in its overall grand statement structure, in which a purpose was to secure the blessings of liberty to the US in the year of our Lord 1787 (which implies a risen Christ as living Lord). Blessings of liberty takes on a very interesting colour in light of US Congress calls for times of prayer, penitence and thanksgiving from May 1776 and December 1777 on. The US Congress — yes, the CONGRESS — very explicitly preached the revolution as a specifically Christian revival movement. Cf here on for examples. KF

  39. 39
    kairosfocus says:


    I simply note on the Haldane point that your view deconstructs itself. Truth and warrant for truth become very serious issues indeed, in our reasoning, or our whole system of rationality collapses, which was H’s underlying point. If you follow the links you will see much more, I cite H as an early in a nutshell.

    Follow instead the implications of the assertion that Josiah Royce’s “error exists” is self evidently true.

    This I contend gives a way forward.


  40. 40
    kairosfocus says:

    PS: One pivotal issue is that warrant denotes cases of objective grounding, not just subjectively having a right to a belief that on unrelated grounds happens to be true, as per the classic Gettier examples. Bayesian revision of beliefs is a whole ball game to itself. My own inclination is that the dismissal of the concept of self-evidence was one of those little errors at the beginning that marked a watershed and breakdown of our worldview as Westerners. That is why I point back to the concept of things that are true, and on inspection are seen to be undeniably true once understood in light of our experience of the world, on pain of immediate and obvcious absurdity. “Error exists,” is probably the most simple case I can find. It is true, as is the consent of mankind — just think about sums in school as a child. But also, if we try to deny it, we find ourselves with such a contradiction as immediately shows it undeniably true on pain of absurdity. This entails immediately that truth exists, warrant for truth to objective certainty exists in at least some cases, strong form knowledge exists for such cases, and anything that denies these possibilities is absurd. That cuts a pretty wide swath across a lot of current thought. We may then proceed form there. Notice how I do so here on. KF

  41. 41
    Maus says:

    kairosfocus: “I simply note on the Haldane point that your view deconstructs itself.”

    An unforced error of excess brevity on my part. The following notes should clear up the point I was after.

    “Josiah Royce’s “error exists” is self evidently true.”

    Quite so. The similarly situated Preface Paradox ties things better for ‘warrant’, JTB/Gettier, and my remarks on Haldane.

    “My own inclination is that the dismissal of the concept of self-evidence was one of those little errors at the beginning that marked a watershed and breakdown of our worldview as Westerners.”

    We take terribly different positions on this point. To my mind the current notion of scientific orthodoxy is simply the presentment of what is ‘self-evident’ to the select cadre of Wise Men. This being the same sort of ‘self-evident’ that you seem to profess. Just that yours is Wrong since yours is a heresy according to the Right People. Where the Right People are defined as those that receive governmental assistance in the from of funding and regulations regarding pedagogy; from governments that are charged with staying out of such philosophical disputes.

    My own position on self-evident is the ‘painfully obvious’ and related to:

    “One pivotal issue is that warrant denotes cases of objective grounding, not just subjectively having a right to a belief that on unrelated grounds happens to be true, as per the classic Gettier examples.”

    There are three broad classes of Gettier problems. Those that rely on hasty recognition (Barns). Those that rely on unsound reasoning through irrelevant implications (The originals). And those that rely on a correct generalization that happens to be not be the case in some case (Lighting a match).

    Though, as points of painful obviousness, generalizations are generalizations. And correlation is not causation, so reasoning about necessity based on the material conditional, entailment, Ex Falso, Reductio, etc. is going to go South as a common matter. But these are flaws of the account Philosophy has of its own manners of reasoning and there’s little to be done about it save laugh or cry.

    The interesting condition is that of hasty recognition; which goes to Royce, the Preface, and ‘warrant’. In any condition of recognition can you ensure that you have had enough access this time to be reasonably certain of your recognition or judgement? And have you repeated that task enough times on the same object, relation, or condition so as to rule out spurious errors.

    But then to state this or accept this is to simply state that ‘warrant’ is the newest rebranding for “don’t tell, show” that comes along every three to four centuries. The last two, of course, being Methodological Naturalism. Which, once debased, was replace with The Scientific Method. Which is now debased enough that the time is ripe for the next new term to differentiate the same thing we’ve always meant from what the sophists have done to the last definition.

    But if this is not what is meant by ‘warrant’ then warrant cannot be other than objective consequences and speculative causes. But that’s merely abductive reasoning in the classic sense, and as Bacon was about in the Novum Organum, that got us the philosophical side of the Scientific Method. Itself being no different than anything else going back through Aristotle. But that again just gets into Laplace (Memory serves, may have been Poincare) and reasoning backwards by Bayes, and all the same assorted problems.

    But if ‘warrant’ is meant to be the painfully obvious then it means that we must start from what we can do ourselves. Recognize objects, and realize that by recognizing it we cannot not recognize them in the same breath. Count pebbles. Draw circles and lines. Count pebbles in a circle. And so forth. Or: All those things we need to do to avoid hasty recognition in the Gettier cases.

    I take no issue with ‘warrant’ being simply the newest incarnation of “don’t tell, show” and I take no issue with ‘warrant’ being Bacon’s approach to abduction. Though, in the latter case, it still remains a process of reasoning backwards by intuition. Guided intuition, but intuition nonetheless. Or, if you’re in Crick’s camp, absinthe or other hallucinogens. But such a notion of ‘warrant’ can be no stronger than any plain notion of abduction.

    Which gets back to Haldane and the final death of brevity. Haldane’s thesis is that if he cannot personally believe his beliefs are capital-T True then he cannot believe his mental processes are the consequences of atoms. Which is simply Royce and the Preface Paradox again. But that has terribly little to do with what Haldane’s thoughts are a consequence of; it is a general statement about every belief. With specificity to Haldane’s brain it is only relevant if he has prior knowledge.

    But chasing that down the rabbit hole simply gets into Cartesian Doubt and Solipsism. Which is fine for what its worth. But it neither necessitates that chemicals are logical or not. But what is necessary is that ‘logic’ is no more than our expressions of reasoning to one another. And if you do not have any replicable practice in expressing your reasoning then certainly you’re in a Gettier issue. Or a basement somewhere. The irrelevant connection here being related to Gettier’s original cases rather than the examples the followed.

    Far too long but I hope that cures any errors I introduced by avoiding length.

  42. 42
    kairosfocus says:

    Maus: Pardon, but self evidence is not the same as question-begging ideological credulity. Self evident propositions are true, are seen as true once we understand them, and on attempted denial lead to patent contradictions. That is why I gave the example. The sort of a priori Lewontinian materialism I have contrasted shows itself as actually self-refuting, though such is not obvious (or the position would have been untenable). One has to go around the loop until the problems emerge and that may require technical analysis to see. For instance, that happened with Marxism. KF

  43. 43
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: Maybe I need to contrast a case. What is the sqrt(-1)? Does this make sense? Why, does positing an artificial value then allow us so much of an ease in Math and enable a world of dynamic analysis? It can be mocked and dismissed or brushed aside, but it opens new vistas that we can then use to get to somewhere else, including the astonishing result 0 = 1 + e^pi*i. But sqrt(-1) is not self evident like 2 + 3 = 5. for this last, once we understand what a two-set, a 3-set and a 5-set are, and that add means join, we see it is so, must be so and denial is absurd at once. KF

  44. 44
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N 2: The better paradox would be to assert, no complex software is 100% bug free. We can know that software is highly reliable, whilst being open to bugs remaining and that bug fixes can induce bug cascades, so we live with imperfections. So, that I, editors etc have done due diligence does not guarantee no errors in a book, once we recognise our finitude and fallibility. So to say in a preface that remaining errors are my responsibility is not in contradiction to the truer form, we have searched and could find no more errors, so far. But, on humbling track record we are confident there is with high reliability at least one we have missed, probably more. The first being liable to be announced after the first printing, per the “under enough eyes bugs become shallow” principle. Which takes us back to: error exists, painfully familiar from red X’s on sums at school. But that secures only commonplace understanding. It is in the hypothetical denial that we immediately produce a contradiction, at least one of which must be false, that shows the absurdity here. And the significance comes in that certainty of warrant for a pivotal case. Thus truth exists, and knowledge exists though we may be mistaken by virtue of the point we firmly know. Systems that contradict the reality of truth and knowledge on warrant then fail and must rest on errors. KF

  45. 45
    mike1962 says:

    KF: What is the sqrt(-1)? Does this make sense? Why, does positing an artificial value then allow us so much of an ease in Math and enable a world of dynamic analysis?

    Because so-called “imaginary” numbers are a natural fit when dealing with phase relationships. There is nothing at all magical or mystical about them.

  46. 46
    kairosfocus says:

    M62: I am not appealing to magic, but to the artificiality of the construct. This is by contrast with that which is self-evident. KF

  47. 47
    mike1962 says:


    It turns out that it is not at all “artificial”, any more so than other features of number theory. Phase relationships exist through out nature, and imaginary numbers nicely handle them. It may not have been “obvious”, but there is nothing contrived, forced, “unnatural” about them. As many thing in mathematics, imaginary numbers were something “there” waiting to be discovered.

  48. 48
    Joe says:

    OK wait- someone should write a dissertation on the proliferation of evo sock puppets and their impact on communicating ideas.

  49. 49
    sergiomendes says:


    nice point!


  50. 50
    sergiomendes says:


    “someone should write a dissertation on the proliferation of evo sock puppets ”

    confusing to me your meaning here. what are “evo sock puppets”? relate to “proliferation” and “dissertation”? thank you.


  51. 51
    Joe says:


    See sock puppet. Proliferation would be a rapid or excessive spread or increase and the dissertation would be the paper that discusses this phenomenon.

  52. 52
    johnnyb says:

    Sergio –

    I think Joe’s point was that what is interesting (and worthy of a PhD dissertation) is not the DI’s communication strategy, but the fact that so many evolutionists (shortened to evos) find it necessary to lie about their identity in order to make points. At UD we have had people who posted under multiple different names just to agree with themselves. I don’t know if this is a widespread problem, or if it happens the other way around on evolutionary biology websites, too. But anyway, I think that was his point.

    I apologize for all of the jargon. We’ve been having a lot of these conversations for years, and the same people and same issues keep coming up, so sometimes we forget to stop and explain the issue for people who are new to the discussion.

  53. 53
    kairosfocus says:


    Cf Reppert here in the already linked, expanding on the point Haldane made:

    . . . let us suppose that brain state A, which is token identical to the thought that all men are mortal, and brain state B, which is token identical to the thought that Socrates is a man, together cause [–> physically] the belief that Socrates is mortal. It isn’t enough for rational inference that these events be those beliefs, it is also necessary that the causal transaction be in virtue of the content of those thoughts [–> i.e. their logical implication] . . . [[But] if naturalism is true, then the propositional content is irrelevant to the causal transaction that produces the conclusion, and [[so] we do not have a case of rational inference. In rational inference, as Lewis puts it, one thought causes another thought not by being, but by being seen to be, the ground for it. But causal transactions in the brain occur in virtue of the brain’s being in a particular type of state that is relevant to physical causal transactions.

    This is but one of several ways to see the same basic problem. Evolutionary materialism has a serious problem of self referential absurdity.


    PS: I am contrasting complex numbers to natural ones and to positive reals. Negative numbers are also counter-intuitive. That something is useful is not the same as that it is self-evident. The very name imaginary tells us just how non-intuitive sqrt (-1) is. Remember, if you multiply a ne3gative no by itself, you get a positive, and a negative number is already a stretch beyond where people are naturally inclined. Irrationals, transcententals and transfinite numbers are all useful too, but they are not in the same conceptual class as 1, 2, 3, 4, . . . [It may help you to know that I used to teach my students to spot poles in the left-1/2 of the complex frequency domain from observable damped oscillatory behaviour.]

  54. 54
    Maus says:

    kairosfocus: “Self evident propositions are true, are seen as true once we understand them, and on attempted denial lead to patent contradictions.”

    No offense meant, I was simply covering the bases given my understanding. But it seems still your thrust is on a different line then what I was after. In essence it seems you permit any deductively provable notion, while I’m after only those that lie under the others. Fuzzy threshhold to be sure, for either position. Specifically in the following:

    F/N 2 -> Yep, software engineering is the exact same problem. But with indemnity clauses. And while I agrree that it is not a necessary contradiction to hold both beliefs (The generality Gettier) it is part of the history JTB. Though, I do not understand the argument of a ‘pivotal case’ for warrant. Aside from that, it is certainly the case that any rationale or mental scaffold is bankrupt if it refutes itself or if reality refutes it as a matter of necessary absurdity.

    Cf Reppert -> I disagree with the analysis for a number of reasons. It’s valid under certain priors but it makes an unwise judgement with respect to naturalism by resting on a false dichotomy. Too long and far afield to deal with: AI, recursion, etc etc.

    Negs and Imags -> I think we agree on this one in that negative numbers as a concept of a deficit are intuitive but as numbers qua numbers, it requires first that we understand the counting numbers. The prior statement should have us on the same page then. As for the rest of the difference, if we have 3, then 2 must be prior to it, … I’m sure you now the paraphrase and the intention for it.

    Self-reference in Evolution -> It is certainly the case that circular nonsense is leveraged as purported ‘evidence’ of evolution. Of course, that’s only the beginning of the morass that has been made of things in the championing of orthodoxy. But it is also the case that some people take evolution as self-evidently true. As well as Materialism, Nihilism, Catholocism, Ismism, or anything else imaginable.[1]

    I submit again that belief needs no justification and that any given assumption is suitable both for hypothetical uses and issues of belief without any special distinction between those cases. But we’re no closer to a firm definition of what a ‘warrant’ is and what ‘evidence’ it can provide.

    I can only assume that you disagree, by silence, that a ‘warrant’ is empirical demonstration or that a ‘warrant’ is abductive reasoning. And if neither of these then I’m out of ideas (and caffeine) as to how to square the notion of objective grounding with something other than these options.

    [1] A quick footnote here. I take any number of things as self-evident which are only self-evident to myself. But lacking any manner in which to demonstrate such notions to others I necessarily lack any manner in which to properly demonstrate it to myself as well. Which is to state that I believe, but do not have knowledge of. So far as that goes.

  55. 55
    kairosfocus says:


    Quick note. More later.

    The criterion of patently obvious absurdity on denial eliminates all but certain properly basic propositions.

    Notice, exemplar no 1, “error exists.”


  56. 56
    kairosfocus says:


    The discussion is a bit adrift from the fairly serious main issue. I think a quick note on a key point is all I should try, lest the main issue gets lost.


    I submit again that belief needs no justification and that any given assumption is suitable both for hypothetical uses and issues of belief without any special distinction between those cases. But we’re no closer to a firm definition of what a ‘warrant’ is and what ‘evidence’ it can provide.

    I can only assume that you disagree, by silence, that a ‘warrant’ is empirical demonstration or that a ‘warrant’ is abductive reasoning. And if neither of these then I’m out of ideas (and caffeine) as to how to square the notion of objective grounding with something other than these options.

    Warrant is whatever provides good objective grounds so that a responsible person would use the so supported claim in serious contexts. It can be a proof relative to first plausible axioms and trusted derived results, if we deal with a mathematical topic, or certain logical ones etc. It can be inductive support which enfolds abduction. It can be credible testimony. It can be record that passes the Ancient documents rule, etc etc. What is needed is a recognition of the reasonable degree of support for a claim of a given kind (neither too loose nor selectively hyperskeptical.)

    And, I am implying that it comes in degrees, so that we have strong form knowledge [warranted, essentially certainly true beliefs that are not going to be provisionally held — including self-evident truths that help us assess truth claims, such as error exists and four key laws of thought . . . ], and weaker forms such as in scientific contexts, courts of law, board rooms and classrooms, common sense contexts etc [warranted, credibly true but held to a provisional and appropriate degree for the decisions in hand]. In some cases the latter can amount to moral certainty.

    Belief, for a responsible person, needs the appropriate reason to be held. And, knowledge is a species of belief. In practical argument, one should seek to have prudent, reliable, sound convictions.

    For instance, I am morally certain of the existence and active reality of God. For just one instance, I would be dead 40+ years now, apart from a miracle of guidance in answer to my mother’s desperate prayer of release. I am similarly morally certain that I have met this God in the face of the living, risen Christ. I am historically certain of the basic story line in the NT, and particularly concerning the resurrection of Jesus from the dead in fulfillment of prophecies in OT of Messiah, and with over 500 witnesses some 20 of which are identifiable. In that context, I am historically certain of the authenticity of the NT.

    I am morally certain that for the everyday world Newtonian physics provides an adequate model. I hold it to be a model at this stage not properly a theory. Quantum and Relativity have good empirical warrant, but are provisional. String theory seems in some respects over the border into speculative philosophy. Some empirical testing is indicated.

    In this context I underscore the issue of objectivity in warrant.

    I trust this helps clarify.


  57. 57
    Maus says:

    kairosfocus: “The criterion of patently obvious absurdity on denial eliminates all but certain properly basic propositions.”

    As a first course, certainly. Peano’s Axioms are rather minimal as well. So are the consequences, to be sure; but it is a bootstrap for later things.

    “Warrant is whatever provides good objective grounds so that a responsible person would use the so supported claim in serious contexts”

    Which simply returns us to the notion that warrant is not objective. For certainly neither Induction (Most variants) nor Abduction are objective.

    “The discussion is a bit adrift from the fairly serious main issue.”

    Then we’ll come full circle to keep it on topic with some Devil’s Advocacy. Certainly it is the case, by the definitions provided, that Shellska has warrant to hold that the Discovery Institute has simply rebranded the issue. Good warrant to hold that the scordova’s (Go scordova! Didn’t realize you wrote the post.) objection about Edwards & Aguillards position as a No True Scotsman. Good warrant to claim that DI is attempting to refute evolution, or at least hamper uncritical acceptance of it. And that she has good warrant not the least from using ANT as an objective manner to evaluate social and semiotic relations to identify central actors and clusters of actors.

    Indeed, by the use of ANT then we have good warrant in stating that Shellska was, in fact, modelling communications issues in and between peer groups.

  58. 58
    kairosfocus says:

    Maus: What do you mean when you say “objective”? KF

  59. 59
    kairosfocus says:

    Maus: I have gathered and presented above evidence from Shellska’s presentation which indicates ideological agenda, bias and irresponsibility before evident facts and issues that have more than one side. Indeed, she is an example of a priori materialism and scientism. Were she a more eminent person, she would be fit to join the list with Lewontin et al. She may identify networks of interaction to her heart’s content, her conclusions are plainly driven by agenda serving question-begging and even falsely accusatory a prioris. I have no confidence in the work I have seen. She has not adequately sought to find the material facts and a view that is objective in the sense that it is as free of personality and bias as possible, is grounded on a fair treatment of the full range of accessible and material evidence and is for good and defensible reason credibly true — corresponding with reality by saying of what is that it is, and what is not, that it is not. KF

  60. 60
    RkBall says:

    My problem with her thesis begins with this: “to disrupt the translation of evolution into education and the broader public.”

    Doesn’t make sense. Not sure it’s even grammatical. “the field of education”, maybe? And not “evolution” itself but “scientific evolutionary thought”, maybe?

    Shouldn’t someone writing at the PhD level be really good at precise, rigorous expression? Especially when it’s a thesis statement?

  61. 61
    sergiomendes says:

    Joe, johnnyb,

    thank you for clarification. much investigating needed.


  62. 62
    sergiomendes says:

    does not I D serve purpose of glorifying God the Creator? does not I D fulfill Bible promise of revealing God from Creation? to me it seems I D work hand-hand with creation science to achieve goals.


  63. 63
    Gregory says:


    I D may serve that purpose, but that is not what it was designed for. According to IDers, it was designed only to contribute good science, without any connection *at all* to religion, theology or worldview.

    No, I D was not designed to “fulfill Bible promise of revealing God from Creation” because it is a ‘science-only’ theory that is not based on Scripture; it is devoid of religious committments (Dembski 2004).

    Yes, it seems to me that the I D M(ovement) works hand-in-hand happily with ‘creationists’ to achieve its goals. scordova is one example, as he is a creationist who has been affiliated with IDEA clubs and active promoting I D at universities, etc.

  64. 64
    kairosfocus says:


    ID has no specifically theological goals as it is not a theological project. Creationism, evidently driven by biblical-theological concerns [e.g. I just saw an ICR page: “Biblical. Accurate. Certain”], is. Oddly, atheistical reconstructions of science are also driven by anti-theological concerns. Actually, to a significant degree, Creationism is driven by a need to respond to such atheistical agendas in science and society.

    Which is a plainly legitimate basic concern.

    But that means that Bible-based Creationism is more than science. It is also specifically Christian apologetics. One can and indeed in significant cases many have done good science in that context, but that does not mean that the theological concerns and efforts are absent. To cite a case in point, in the most important book of modern science, especially in his general scholium, Newton took on two theological projects, first a vindication of theism as a frame for science, and at a more subtle level, the defense of some peculiar distinctives he held.

    That is a matter of history of science, and of broader philosophy directly linked to it. In the book that laid out the epochal Newtonian system of the world.

    By contrast, ID does serve some philosophical-ethical objectives, of discovering sound principles of investigating our world, drawing responsible conclusions based on observable evidence, and seeking truth about origins without the sort of distorting censorship that Shellska and others of like ilk would impose through a priori materialism. (Cf 34 ff above for key clips from her presentation, and for responses.)

    Indirectly, the concerns of ID serve the principles of unity of truth and the concept that if God is author of the world and is Truth himself, genuine discoveries will point to God. That this last seems to be so, is inadvertently testified to by the censorship of science in service to atheism that ever so many wish to impose, and their notion of a dangerous Divine Foot in the door.

    Newton and others knew better: God’s world would be one of order and organisation so that science seeks to in effect think God’s creative and sustaining thoughts after him. Whether or not the individual scientist is conscious of that or agrees with it, so long as s/he does not impose an ideological censorship.

    And, in order to stand out as signs pointing beyond the usual course of the world sustained by God by way of pointing beyond that course to something unusual, miracles would have to be very rare relative to the course of events that make up our world as a going concern.


  65. 65
    kairosfocus says:

    PS: I wrote of Newton’s Principia, published c 1688.

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