Intelligent Design

Creeping Creationism or Galloping Intolerance at the Edinburgh Science Festival? — Alastair Noble Weighs In

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Over on the website of Centre for Intelligent Design (C4ID) UK, director Alastair Noble has posted some remarks concerning the Edinburgh Science Festival held this week just ending. An associated evening event, organised by the Humanist Society of Scotland, addressed “The Threat of Creeping Creationism In Schools In Scotland”. Alastair Noble responds,

I recently attended an evening event (21 April 2011) at the prestigious Edinburgh Science Festival.  Organised by the Humanist Society of Scotland, it addressed “The Threat of Creeping Creationism in Scottish Schools”.  As a proponent of the debate around Intelligent Design (ID), I thought our Centre might feature.  I wasn’t wrong.

It wasn’t the creeping creationism that worried me.  In fact one of the speakers from Aberdeen University assured us there was no such problem in schools, and some of the survey data presented to the contrary was lacking in statistical significance.  How horrifying is it that one, yes one, school in Scotland has invited a “creationist speaker” to talk to pupils?

What really worried me were the factual inaccuracies and the tone of intolerance – not a good start for an event purporting to advance the cause of open scientific enquiry.  One speaker – a member of the Glasgow “Brights” compared “creationists” and “intelligent design proponents” to “Holocaust deniers” – a claim as silly as it is scandalous.

The general approach was to dismiss as “tendentious” the evidence presented by those who disagree with the consensus, reinforce with demeaning slogans (“ID is BS” is one the humanists are currently proud of, implying more than “bad science” of course), and assume that a person’s background or beliefs allows you to disregard any argument they may advance in science.

My scientific training taught me that the starting point for any credible conclusion is to establish the facts and consider all possible interpretations of the data.  In this respect the event was a travesty of accuracy.  Continue Reading>>>

4 Replies to “Creeping Creationism or Galloping Intolerance at the Edinburgh Science Festival? — Alastair Noble Weighs In

  1. 1
    Joseph says:

    So ID is misrepresented on the other side of the pond also.

    Is that so surprising?

    Ya see the blokes over there cannot support their position either so they have to attack ID. It’s all they have.

  2. 2
    allanius says:

    OK, but why does all spinning of this variety have to begin by conceding the point? What is wrong, after all, with belief in God the father almighty, maker of heaven and earth? Are we ashamed of this belief? And yet we say it every Sunday morning.

    Personally, I don’t see what is gained by this kind of rhetoric. First of all, it is disingenuous. Of course Johnson and Dembski and Behe believe in a creator. In fact the Bible and its promises make no sense whatsoever unless God is the creator of the heavens and earth and sovereign in them. How can the meek inherit the earth unless God wills it?

    Secondly, whom exactly are we trying to convince with such arguments? The materialists aren’t going to thank us for knocking ourselves out in an attempt to appease them and their appetite for killing God and keeping him out of public discourse. “The Threat of Creeping Creationism” speaks for itself. They see themselves as warriors for right and have no intention of yielding an inch.

    Their materialism is totalitarian. It can admit no possibility of God and no tolerance for belief in a creator. Their atheism is hardening now for the very reason that they see it threatened, most of all by molecular biology, which makes Darwin’s fairy tale impossible, and also by ID. These are secularists who have invested their faith in a militant secular vision. Appeasing them is pointless.

    So the “scientific” establishment at Edinburgh thinks that people who believe that “all things were made through him” are foolish and dangerous. I would rather be a fool for Christ than attempt to justify myself to people who hate God. And after all, who was more dangerous to the establishment than Christ?

  3. 3
    kairosfocus says:

    Allanius:

    Excellent issues:

    The materialists aren’t going to thank us for knocking ourselves out in an attempt to appease them and their appetite for killing God and keeping him out of public discourse. “The Threat of Creeping Creationism” speaks for itself. They see themselves as warriors for right and have no intention of yielding an inch.

    Their materialism is totalitarian. It can admit no possibility of God and no tolerance for belief in a creator. Their atheism is hardening now for the very reason that they see it threatened

    1 –> As a matter of the public debate of issues, it is necessary for the accessible record to state and establish the truth of where ID stands, and why, so that those in leadership or evo mat who resort to twisting the truth about ID into strawman caricatures can only do so by resorting to willful deceptions, by distorting what they know or should know.

    2 –> That is always of first importance on controversial matters when one deals with ruthless and militant opponents. So, the reasonable onlooker can easily enough see where the truth stands. And, the right.

    3 –> At a more substantial level, it needs to be clear that the design theory is about science,and so we have to establish the ground rules of what science at its best is. For instance, in the IOSE course appendix, we may read:

    science, at its best, is the unfettered — but ethically and intellectually responsible — progressive pursuit of the truth about our world (i.e. an accurate and reliable description and explanation of it), based on:

    a: collecting, recording, indexing, collating and reporting accurate, reliable (and where feasible, repeatable) empirical — real-world, on the ground — observations and measurements,

    b: inference to best current — thus, always provisional — abductive explanation of the observed facts,

    c: thus producing hypotheses, laws, theories and models, using logical-mathematical analysis, intuition and creative, rational imagination [[including Einstein’s favourite gedankenexperiment, i.e thought experiments],

    d: continual empirical testing through further experiments, observations and measurement; and,

    e: uncensored but mutually respectful discussion on the merits of fact, alternative assumptions and logic among the informed. (And, especially in wide-ranging areas that cut across traditional dividing lines between fields of study, or on controversial subjects, “the informed” is not to be confused with the eminent members of the guild of scholars and their publicists or popularisers who dominate a particular field at any given time.)

    As a result, science enables us to ever more effectively (albeit provisionally) describe, explain, understand, predict and influence or control objects, phenomena and processes in our world.

    4 –> With that in mind, we may turn to the point that design theory is about the observationally grounded scientific study of signs that point to the causal factors chance, necessity and design, leading to certain current conclusions about features of our natural world on inference to best, empirically based explanation.

    5 –> Among these signs are irreducible complexity on a Wicken wiring diagram that integrates key functional components that must be fine-tuned to fit and work together in a system if it is to function at all. As a result, should one or more core parts or nodes be removed, function will fail.

    6 –> Similarly, functionally or otherwise specified complexity beyond a threshold is measurable, and on the implied or explicit information involved the relevant configurations will come from zones of interest that it is maximally improbable to find on the gamut of the observed cosmos through blind chance-dominated trial and error. (Low contingency outcomes are driven by necessity.)

    7 –> Both of these signs are abundantly well supported as reliable signs of design; where we independently know the cause.

    8 –> And, on the relevant issues of configurational possibilities, it is unreasonable to infer that so many statistical miracles have acted. Once one is willing to acknowledge the possibility of a designer of the relevant features of the natural world.

    9 –> In short, evidence that supports design over chance plus necessity, on credible induction, is evidence that supports the inference to design as best empirically anchored explanation of those features of our natural world.

    10 –> But these features include the origin of major body plans, the origin of life and the origin of an observed cosmos that seems to be fine-tuned in ways that support the possibility of C-chemistry, cell based life. On empirical evidence and reasonable inductive inference.

    11 –> For body plans or even life, such design needs be no more than a molecular nanotech lab a few generations beyond Venter, who has demonstrated proof of concept.

    12 –> For the fine tuned cosmos though, we are looking sat a beginning of the observed universe, so we are forced to look at an ontologically necessary being to explain a contingent cosmos (even through a multiverse model), and the sort of fine tuning we see supports design.

    13 –> That cluster of evidence cuts directly across the fond hopes of evolutionary materialism, dressed in a lab coat. Hence the sense of threat and the sense of militancy in defence of an institutionally dominant position.

    14 –> But, it is a peculiarity of science that is cannot become mere ideology. It has to be open to empirically based, well warranted evidence. If it is to preserve its integrity, and at length its credibility. (The case of climate science in the aftermath of the climategate scandal [for all the pretence of business as usual . . . ] is telling.)

    15 –> So, evolutionary materialists already forced to “Creationism in a cheap tuxedo” smear tactics to try to brush aside and discredit design thought, should begin to be seriously concerned when they see the cluster of evidence that starts with the now infamous Lewontin declaration of a priori materialism:

    To Sagan, as to all but a few other scientists, it is self-evident that the practices of science provide the surest method of putting us in contact with physical reality, and that, in contrast, the demon-haunted world rests on a set of beliefs and behaviors that fail every reasonable test . . . .

    It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door.

    [From: “Billions and Billions of Demons,” NYRB, January 9, 1997.]

    16 –> Not exactly a mind open to and docile before the evidence. And the cites from Mr Coyne, the US NAS and NSTA simply expose how deep the rot is. Reformation is plainly in order.

    17 –> To then see committed atheists who dominate institutions try to smear those who would correct their closed minded, militant materialistic ideologisation of science with the accusation — in their minds it is an accusation: “ignorant, stupid, insane and/or wicked” — of Creationism, is telling.

    18 –> And, as the ongoing CSI newsflash thread shows, the evidence and balance on the merits keep going in ways the evolutionary materialistic establishment does not want it to go.

    ______________

    Yes, the ideologues in dominant positions see themselves in self-servingly pleasant ways, and perceive a threat to their ideological dominance.

    But sooner or later the tactics, the materialist a priorim and censorship, the career busting — don’t forget the recent US$ 125 k settlement for Mr Gaskell — and the general nastiness that we have seen ever so much of, will blow the issue wide open.

    Indeed, the events of the past few days on the newsflash thread are a sign the dam is springing cracks and leaks.

    And the fear that the dominance of education is slipping is a big part of the reason for the militancy you point to.

    GEM of TKI

  4. 4
    mggarrison says:

    We all should keep it simple:

    “Following the evidence where it leads is how you do science. So I’d rather say, “science is fundamental to understanding evolution”. ”

    And following evidence to truth…

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