Darwinism Evolution Intelligent Design

Hey Ken, Lighten Up and Chill Out

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It appears that Ken Miller is contacting people about how I got the copy of that check for $7000 that Playboy Enterprises made out to Michael Ruse for writing a pro-evolution anti-ID article (go here for an image of the check). He could simply have asked me. Hef is actually a long-time Chicago buddy of mine (he and my Dad were at the UofI in Champaign-Urbana after WWII). Hef showed it to me the last time I was at the Mansion.

By the way, Michael Ruse is not the only Darwinist to be honored by Playboy. Eugenie Scott received the 1999 Hugh Hefner First Amendment Award in the category “Education”:

As executive director since 1987 of the National Center for Science Education, a pro-evolution nonprofit science education organization with members in every state, Dr. Eugenie Scott is responsible for the counter attack on the teaching of “creation science.” She receives a Hugh M. Hefner First Amendment Award in the Education category for tirelessly defending the separation of church and state by ensuring that religious neutrality is maintained in the science curriculum of America’s public schools.

Founded in 1981, the Center serves as a clearinghouse for advice on the creation-evolution controversy. Based in Berkeley, California, and operating on an annual budget of less than $300,000, the Center is primarily supported by contributions from its 4000 members. The Center’s goal is to improve and support education in evolution and the nature of science, and to increase public awareness of these subjects. While there are other organizations that oppose the teaching of creationism as part of their general mission, the Center is the only national organization specializing in this issue.

Working primarily with science educators, Scott provides materials and expert testimony for school board hearings, and speaks extensively on evolution to scientific, educational, legal and civil liberties organizations litigating creation/evolution issues. She is an internationally recognized expert on the creation/evolution controversy, and has consulted with the National Academy of Sciences, several State Departments of Education and legal staffs in both the United States and Australia.

Scott holds a Ph.D. in biological anthropology from the University of Missouri, and received both her B.S. and M.S. from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. She has taught at the University of Kentucky, the University of Colorado and in the California State University system. A human biologist, her research has been in medical anthropology and skeletal biology. She has many published papers and monographs, has served as chair of the Ethics Committee of the American Anthropological Association and served as the Secretary-Treasurer of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists. In 1994, Scott was elected to the California Academy of Sciences.

Scott and her husband, Thomas C. Sager, reside in Berkeley, California.

[Go here and scroll down — hey, who was the first face … no, it’s Michael Moore]

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18 Replies to “Hey Ken, Lighten Up and Chill Out

  1. 1
    jaredl says:

    Ken’s on the wrong side, both morally and intellectually. Only the guilty fleeth when none pursueth or something like that…

  2. 2
    Charliecrs says:

    Its obvious that this guy has MAJOR problems. He should of just asked Mr.Dembski…
    Can we term this the Dembski Wars ?

    Charlie

  3. 3
    DaveScot says:

    “Hef showed it to me the last time I was at the Mansion.”

    Well color ME green with envy…

  4. 4
    jaredl says:

    Maybe one of Ken’s problems is the internal contradictions between theism and Darwinism.

    Here’s a sketch of the argument:

    Darwinism logically entails, at best, hard agnosticism. Why? If Darwinian mechanisms can, in principle, generate the complex specified information (CSI) present in biological structures, then they also can, in principle, account for information gotten through the biological structures (eyes, ears, brains, so on). If God can be known, it is only through CSI. But Darwinism can, in principle (according to its proponents), account for CSI in biological structures. Hence, any information we think we have about anything, including religion, may indeed just be a subjective product of the Darwinian mechanism, and there is no principled way to treat firsthand experience of the divine as an experiential datum of anything beyond the material universe as opposed to explaning such an experience as hallucination or other epistemically subjective occurence if one is also a Darwinist. Therefore, for the Darwinist, knowledge of God is unassertible.

    I see revelatory theism and Darwinism as logically irreconcilable, and I suspect certain evolutionists who claim to be theists are testy because of cognitive dissonance.

  5. 5
    Bombadill says:

    Perfectly put, jaredl.

    I watched a CSPAN debate featuring Ken Miller. He actually said that, along with his ID opponent, one of his main goals is to “introduce people to Jesus”.

    I can’t figure out how that works.

  6. 6
    russ says:

    “[Scott]…has consulted with the National Academy of Sciences, several State Departments of Education and legal staffs in both the United States and Australia.”

    I believe she’s also consulted with the Smithsonian when the folks there were trying to find grounds for firing Dr. Richard Sternber…

    According to the Office of Special Counsel as posted here http://www.rsternberg.net/OSC_ltr.htm

    “Of great import is the fact that these same SI and NMNH employees immediately aligned themselves with the National Center for Science Education (NCSE). Our investigation shows that NCSE is a political advocacy organization dedicated to defeating any introduction of ID, creationism or religion into the American education system. In fact, members of NCSE worked closely with SI and NMNH members in outlining a strategy to have you investigated and discredited within the SI. Members of NCSE, furthermore, e-mailed detailed statements of repudiation of the Meyer article to high level NMNH officials. In turn they sent them to the Society. There are e-mails that are several pages in length that map out their strategy. NCSE recommendations were circulated within the SI and eventually became part of the official public response of the SI to the Meyer article. OSC is not making a statement on whether the SI or NMNH was wrong or right in aligning with the NCSE, although OSC questions the use of appropriated funds to work with an outside advocacy group for this purpose. This is only discussed to show that the actions taken on the part of SI employees clearly had a political and religious component. Therefore, it may lend credence to your allegations that your religious and political affiliations were investigated and made a part of the actions taken against you.”

  7. 7
    taciturnus says:

    Jared,

    “Hence, any information we think we have about anything, including religion, may indeed just be a subjective product of the Darwinian mechanism, and there is no principled way to treat firsthand experience of the divine as an experiential datum of anything beyond the material universe as opposed to explaning such an experience as hallucination or other epistemically subjective occurence if one is also a Darwinist.”

    This is essentially the argument of Descartes with “Darwinian mechanism” substituted for “evil demon.” And isn’t the final terminus of this argument radical skepticism rather than merely hard agnosticism, as Descartes showed? It’s not just knowledge of the supernatural that becomes suspicious, but knowledge in general. If our experience of CSI might be an hallucination, why not our experience of trees, sunsets and fossils as well? The only indubitable thing is the self’s experience of the self: Cogito ergo sum.

    Cheers,
    Dave T.

  8. 8
    Deuce says:

    “If our experience of CSI might be an hallucination, why not our experience of trees, sunsets and fossils as well?”

    Not to mention our experience and concept of the Darwinian mechanism, which is what caused us to disbelieve everything in the first place, making the whole thing self-refuting. This is why, taken literally and applied to everything, the logical conclusion of Darwinism is the abject abandonment of logic, reason, and everything based them, such as science and philosophy.

  9. 9
    jaredl says:

    I didn’t claim Darwinists are consistent – unless it’s in applying the logic outlined consistently against knowledge labelled “religious.” Darwinists must eat this argument whole. Radical skepticism entails hard agnosticism and I recognize that my argument reaches much farther than I in fact go; my rhetorical target here is theists who spout “no conflict between Darwin and God.”

  10. 10
    jaredl says:

    The important point is that the argument is sound.

  11. 11
    taciturnus says:

    OK, I missed your true intent… and I think you are right that Darwin and God can’t ultimately be reconciled.

    Cheers,
    Dave T.

  12. 12
    Bombadill says:

    Correlating sidenote: It’s especially difficult to reconcile Darwinism with Biblical Christianity, specifically. This is because you have Christ who, theologically, is the direct ransom sacrifice for Adam (because of Adam’s initial sin) – Christ is actually called the “last Adam” (1 Corinthians 15:45). So, if we deny the Adam of Genesis… Christ’s ransom sacrifice is meaningless. There was no sin-nature to be atoned for in the first place.

  13. 13
    ftrp11 says:

    You cannot reconcile belief in evolutionary theory with Biblical Creationism. There is no doubt about that. I disagree with Jared however when he says “I see revelatory theism and Darwinism as logically irreconcilable.” What science does attempt to do is negate the need for supernatural events but what it cannot do is claim that they are impossible or never happen. One may well be lead to believe that super natural events do not happen because of their scientific knowledge but the belief itself is unscientific.

    There are simply too many elements of theism that are outside the purview of science for science to ever be able to touch the God question. Certain belief structures that hold to provable/disprovable ideas can be threatened by science but the faith of Christians who are willing to look at the Bible in general as being a representation of the “truth” and not the literal truth there can never be an irreconcilable conflict with science.

    Personally, I find the greatest threat to religion in the study of human civilization and religion and not at all in science.

  14. 14
    bradcliffe1 says:

    ftrp11, you wrote
    “There are simply too many elements of theism that are outside the purview of science for science to ever be able to touch the God question. Certain belief structures that hold to provable/disprovable ideas can be threatened by science but the faith of Christians who are willing to look at the Bible in general as being a representation of the “truth” and not the literal truth there can never be an irreconcilable conflict with science.”

    I think you’re right, but a lot of religious people believe that unless their holy book or books are accurate on factual issues, they can’t be trusted on issues of doctrine or theology. Such people see science as a potential threat to their entire religion and tend to resist it for that reason.

    It makes me wonder what percentage of intelligent design supporters believe in the literal truth of a holy book or books, versus religious people who accept evolution?

  15. 15
    bradcliffe1 says:

    jaredl, you wrote
    “Hence, any information we think we have about anything, including religion, may indeed just be a subjective product of the Darwinian mechanism, and there is no principled way to treat firsthand experience of the divine as an experiential datum of anything beyond the material universe as opposed to explaning such an experience as hallucination or other epistemically subjective occurence if one is also a Darwinist. Therefore, for the Darwinist, knowledge of God is unassertible.”

    Two objections: 1) Mystical experiences might be hallucinations, whether or not God exists, and whether or not cognition is materially based or generated by Darwinian processes; 2) there are other ways, besides mystical experiences, for trying to learn about God (natural theology, for example).

    As Dave T points out, the bigger problem is whether materialism entails radical skepticism. I personally think it does, but I also think that you can’t avoid radical skepticism by simply asserting that there is a non-materialistic component to cognition.

    Descartes, after all, was a dualist, but he still recognized the radical skepticism problem. He was forced to reason (circularly, as it turns out) to the idea of a benevolent, non-deceptive God in order to make any progress beyond the ‘cogito’.

    I personally am a radical skeptic, but I’m pragmatic about it: Everything might be illusory, but our pleasures and pains, loves and interests are real enough and they depend completely on this potentially illusory world. So we might as well act as if it’s real. Insisting that it isn’t real, or even obsessing over the fact that it might not be, doesn’t make us happy, so why do it?

  16. 16
    taciturnus says:

    Bradcliffe,

    While I agree that materialism ultimately implies radical skepticism, radical skepticism is not inevitable without materialism. Even Descartes’ skepticism was not inevitable. It’s not quite accurate to say that Descartes “recognized” the radical skepticism problem… rather, he invented the problem with his hypothesis of the “evil demon”. Now, Descartes gave a number of reasons why he proposed this hypothesis, and we have every right to make a judgment regarding those reasons. For myself, I don’t think his reasons are all that good, and I don’t follow him down the road of radical skepticism…

    Cheers,
    Dave T.

  17. 17
    jaredl says:

    “Two objections: 1) Mystical experiences might be hallucinations, whether or not God exists, and whether or not cognition is materially based or generated by Darwinian processes; 2) there are other ways, besides mystical experiences, for trying to learn about God (natural theology, for example).”

    1) Not with a rational foundation, which is what ID affords with specified complexity – hallucinations may be decisively precluded as an explanation for certain phenomena (say, two people sharing an experience).

    2) No, there aren’t. ID confirms that there must exist at least one intelligence outside of the material universe with sufficient causal power to instantiate CSI within it, but that is all.

  18. 18
    bradcliffe1 says:

    Dave T, you wrote
    “It’s not quite accurate to say that Descartes “recognized” the radical skepticism problem… rather, he invented the problem with his hypothesis of the “evil demon”. Now, Descartes gave a number of reasons why he proposed this hypothesis, and we have every right to make a judgment regarding those reasons.”

    I don’t see how jettisoning materialism gets you around the problem of radical skepticism. How can you rule out the possibility of the “evil demon” or its modern variant, the “brain in vat” concept? Even if there is something non-material about cognition and perception this is no guarantee of their accuracy.

    jaredl, you wrote:
    “Not with a rational foundation, which is what ID affords with specified complexity – hallucinations may be decisively precluded as an explanation for certain phenomena (say, two people sharing an experience).”

    See the following for a discussion of shared hallucinations:
    http://skepdic.com/collective.html

    Besides, a shared experience (and the very existence of the person sharing the experience) is just as susceptible to the Cartesian “evil demon” as any other experience. I can see nothing about the concept of specified complexity which guarantees the accuracy of our perceptions and surmounts the problem of the evil demon and its variants. Could you explain why you think it helps?

    I wrote “there are other ways, besides mystical experiences, for trying to learn about God (natural theology, for example).”

    You responded:
    “No, there aren’t. ID confirms that there must exist at least one intelligence outside of the material universe with sufficient causal power to instantiate CSI within it, but that is all.”

    By saying that there are no ways besides mystical experiences for trying to learn about God, you seem to be saying that the application of ID amounts to a mystical experience. While this might not be all that far from the truth, I doubt that Dr. Dembski would appreciate or agree with the implication that ID is mysticism, and therefore not science.

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