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Larry Moran should quit staring at us so intently

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Yesterday, Vince Torley posted “Professor Larry Moran poses five questions for the ID movement.” Here’s hoping readers will read the questions and the responses (Torley’s and others’).

Meanwhile, Dr. Moran says:

… Different Intelligent Design Creationists have widely conflicting views ranging from Young Earth Creationism to Theistic Evolution Creationism but they always manage to cover up those conflicts and present a united front in attacking evolution…

It’s not a coverup. The people involved don’t feel the conflicts are crucial.

We all disbelieve in the magical Darwin machine that produces cells from hot water and mind from mud (via natural selection acting on random mutation). The Darwin machine is propounded at universities, including Larry’s.

Everyone should feel free to have a larf at it, given that we are all funding the scam via taxes. And our kiddies are proselytized at our expense at school.

Moran also seems to think Sal Cordova is in some sort of trouble for disagreeing with Torley about neutral evolution (or about something). Nope.

Also that my news brief on PZ Myers and the vanishing student newspapers somehow related to the neutral evolution story/argument. (It didn’t. I wasn’t even following that; a tipster sent me the link re the newspapers.)

If you stare at the moon long enough, you see people up there. If you stare at the ID community long enough, you see stuff that isn’t happening. 😉

Also: Who just wouldn’t be accepted in the ID community? – O’Leary for News

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I don't mind Larry staring so much, it's what he's staring at that give me the willies! Mung
Thanks, jerry, for your thoughtful comments.
For me and many others we have far exceeded the necessary threshold. But not for most of the world out there.
Unfortunately, it is not really a question of threshold. If someone does not recognize design in life -- even in the face of the observable, empirical fact of the existence of the bacterial flagellum, the mammalian eye, DNA generally, wings, hearts, lungs, pervasive amounts of functional structure, and code, and molecular machines, and on and on -- they will not be persuaded that there is design in life if we discover that, say, some non-coding region of DNA has function. Even if every single nucleotide in DNA were eventually shown to have function, the vast majority of such people would not be persuaded. This is because (i) for many such people this is a worldview issue, not an evidentiary issue, and (ii) more importantly, the question of design vs. natural evolutionary processes is not decided on the basis of whether something is functional or not. This is also why I was pointing out that ID really has nothing to say about whether there are large amounts of junk DNA or not. I've got another small post in the works on this, so hopefully I can flesh out my thoughts in a bit more detail in the next day or two. As to the term "junk DNA", you may be right that the terminology isn't helpful. But most people who talk about "junk DNA" mean precisely what you are focusing on: no function. Given that the term arose in the context of the coding-vs-non-coding days, and now that we know so much more about DNA (though still just scratching the surface), it is true that coding-vs-non-coding is not the right way to tell if something is "junk" or not. I guess there might be some value in jettisoning the term in order to avoid loaded terminology, but my sense is that most people who use it are talking about DNA that has no function, so it is often a synonym for "non-functional DNA." To avoid confusion with the early meaning, though, perhaps you are right that we should avoid the term . . .
And as far as the non-coding regions which do not have function (previously known as Junk DNA), I am on record that the presence of such does not undermines ID.
Quite true. I definitely agree. And the opposite is also true. Namely, the absence of such non-functional regions would not necessarily confirm (or even support in a meaningful way) ID. :) Eric Anderson
I think I understand what you are trying to say. But there is an important distinction here that needs to be drawn. We’ve far exceeded the necessary threshold for determining design with even a single moderately-long gene-coding fragment. Thus, it is already clear that some portion of DNA was designed.
For me and many others we have far exceeded the necessary threshold. But not for most of the world out there.
But we cannot proclaim beforehand that this or that portion of DNA was designed.
Never said this or implied it. Here is what I said on this:
Maybe we should retire the term “junk DNA” and talk about functional DNA (broken down into coding and non-coding) and non-functional DNA. The greater the percentage of functional DNA the more likely it is the result of intelligent activity so it is an ID issue. Then we could discuss whether the non-functional DNA was consistent with intelligent activity.
Rather a simple statement proposing what I believe is a more logical approach to the issue. Especially since it is coming to light that large sections of non-coding DNA are functional and subject to positive selection. And it may be more complicated than the coding sequences. Also it may be qualitatively different from coding regions which directly point to a protein. In the non coding regions we have control, a different kettle of fish but one equally intricate if not more so. There may be a lot of other things it does and these may turn up as research proceeds. We also know next to nothing about what happens to these regions over time or between species due to mutations. All fodder for ID. Here we mainly preach to the choir with a few heretics amongst us but a lot of the choir really don't understand the issues. That certainly includes me on many things so I push and ask a lot of questions. Also there are many who occasionally come here which should be an important target. If we bounce about talking past each other all the time, it is less persuasive to those just learning about ID. So let's get organized and get rid of the term Junk DNA. And as far as the non-coding regions which do not have function (previously known as Junk DNA), I am on record that the presence of such does not undermines ID. jerry
Dr. Moran is beginning to see the edge of intelligent design. Our tent is big, but it is not infinite. On the one hand, there is a community that calls themselves "theistic evolutionists" who refuse to climb under our tent. How one can be a theistic evolutionist and not an IDer is a bit beyond me. After all, if all God did was make a set of laws that, when followed fastidiously, lead to advanced life, then his skills at designing laws are amazingly intelligent! In fact I debated with one such "theistic evolutionist" who argued that to consider that God needed anything but those starting laws was to diminish the intelligence of God. An interesting point, but theistic evolution -- God's laws did it, is intelligent design. Our tent invites the theistic evolutionist to join us. However, we understand the need of some to be "accepted" by the scientific community -- no matter how tentatively. On the other side, "the The Bible says, therefore science is wrong" crowd is at least not held in high esteem by the ID community. Many young earthers present real data to support their position. Many young earthers say, "based upon this physical evidence I must conclude that the earth and life is young". This is an excellent, sensible, ID position. "God said it, I believe it, that settles it, evidence be damned" takes the "intelligent" factor out of the debate. Moose Dr
Eric: Exactly! gpuccio
jerry @10:
The greater the percentage of functional DNA the more likely it is the result of intelligent activity so it is an ID issue.
I think I understand what you are trying to say. But there is an important distinction here that needs to be drawn. We've far exceeded the necessary threshold for determining design with even a single moderately-long gene-coding fragment. Thus, it is already clear that some portion of DNA was designed. Now we can go on in our research and study additional specific sections of DNA. And, yes, we can determine in some instances -- after we have done the analysis -- that such sections of DNA were also designed. But we cannot proclaim beforehand that this or that portion of DNA was designed. Furthermore, there are lots of ways that even designed things can break down, become non-functional, lose their indicia of design, etc. Thus, ID simply cannot make any a priori claims about what percentage of DNA will ultimately be found to have function. Indeed, this isn't, strictly, even an ID question. It is an empirical factual question. In addition, ID cannot make any up front claims about what percentage of DNA was designed. Nor can ID make any up front claim about whether this or that molecular process or molecular machine was designed. The inference comes only after reviewing the data and running it through the explanatory filter. ID simply has nothing to say about whether 90% of DNA is functional (or designed), 50% is functional (or designed), or some other percentage. At the risk of repeating, I want to make sure I'm not misunderstood here. After we have looked at a portion of DNA and determined it is designed, then two potential results may flow from that determination: (i) we might be more willing to consider that other parts of DNA might also be designed, and (ii) we might start to form expectations about what else we may find -- based on our understanding of, and experience with, designed systems. But we cannot (we must not), by virtue of the fact that we found X to be designed, claim that Y is also designed. It simply doesn't follow. Each aspect must be analyzed and the inference drawn individually. Eric Anderson
GPuccio @13, thank you very much. By the way, I am very pleased with your increased involvement at UD. When you participate, You write with such penetration and probing analysis that the discussion always moves forward in a positive direction. StephenB
Larry Moran hardly seems like a serious intellectual given the style of his rhetoric, especially his predilection for name-calling. Optimus
Sorry but I see this statement by him as not intended in the way it appears. To me, to say this sort of thing in a negative fashion (as clearly is done) is to do 2 things: 1) Demonstrate that ID is in no way considered as "science" by the Prof (more re-affirm his belief over this) 2) Plant the seed to cause division - an old trick to say something is true in an almost complementary way to spark off internal dispute. With regards to (1), you cannot be a scientist if you do not understand how vastly different opinions are on any matter of research and science. In virtually every single field there are mass disagreements on mechanisms, modes of actions, even the legitimacy of published work (that many people cannot repeat, for example). Yet still within disagreements, there are over-arching things that some people can agree and unite on, even with the disagreement on lower-level things. Different camps unite under upper level things, some areas there is more unifying acceptance, in others not so much (see Luca Turin/"The Emperor's Scent" by Chandler Burr for a good example). The point is then that no-one would make this point about anyone else in science in a negative fashion. It is belittling the movement as an attack rather than a legitimate view point based on scientific study or research. Therefore it is a dig at saying ID is not a valid scientific way of thought as he is not allowing the same level of sub-level disagreements seen all over science, and as already mentioned here, even within the evolution camp. The same could be said about the naturalistic evolutionists really. With regards to (2), well we are seeing it above already. Make a statement, allow people to digest it and then start to disagree and bring out internal riot. Mung (post #2) is already attesting to that by suggesting YEC is not true science (yet many YEC's I am sure would disagree with that, for example just looking at various creationists websites that approach their belief's in YEC as a purely scientific venture, no doubt driven from hermeneutics however there is the true belief that the science is valid, and it does not totally rely on scripture as evidence). So I think IDers should be careful to not let this statement do what it intended - cause disrpution and scattering through arguments among those who hold a theistic viewpoint of the world and wish to apply that to explain scietific observations. Yet I believe it is a great strength of the ID movement that people can put aside those differences and remember the fundamental reason we unite in THIS context (not all contexts we would be careful to remember): that is, that we believe scientific observations of the natural world point to design and we believe that is a valid scientific method to pursue and hypothesis to investigate and scientific conclusion to make, based on the observable facts. The anti-ID movement is not to say that this theory is right versus this other theory, it is rather to say the "theory" of ID does not even deserve a discussion nor even acceptance as anything scientific or a valid alternative theory to the OOL and similar matters. To me, it comes to that top-level question that we unite around and it is important to do so. Good science accepts multiple interpretations and views as long as they do not go exist absolute pieces of evidence that are irrefutable (such as laws of physics, etc) and have observations to back them up. We can disagree on how far the design element plays out in nature but we still have the common theistic viewpoint which is in contrast to the naturalism that attacks ID. I think we would do well to continue to unite in this setting and not battle between us. The easiest way to win a war is to cause a battle between your enemies. JD Dr JDD
Stephen: Wonderful thoughts! :) gpuccio
I think this site would be exceedingly boring if its contributors or even its authors agreed on all issues peripheral to the ID argument. The very fact that we are confident enough to air them out is a sure sign that we are also confident about ID's main argument. Unlike Dr. Moran, we are not running away from the truth, we are running toward the truth. Because we are confident in our scientific convictions, we are not afraid to examine them in the light of the other disciplines. That is one among many reasons that we also discuss mathematics, philosophy, and theology. We care about details, but we also care about the big picture. Well educated people know that facts without meaning are useless. Even our intramural disputes, few that they are, reflect a desire to fine-tune our arguments through challenging, sometimes spirited, and yes, sometimes personal conflicts. The more intense they are the more fruit they bear. This is what happens when any individual (or community) probes deeply into difficult and abstruse subject matter: The answer to every question raises new questions on a higher and more important level. That is what the educational process is all about. We never experience anything like a life of the mind until we learn that the questions keep coming and the disputes keep happening. Intellectual growth comes from pursuing truth, abandoning false beliefs, and confirming true beliefs; emotional maturity comes from accepting conflict as a fact of life, enduring occasional humiliation, and refusing to hold grudges. Dr Moran no longer asks new and important questions because he is too busy trying to preserve old and outdated answers. Accordingly, he doesn't look beyond his own specialty long enough to examine his assumptions, biases and prejudices from a broader perspective. To discuss science without ever discussing philosophy, for example, is to remain forever imprisoned in a quagmire of meaningless facts and increasingly vulnerable to error. Our main focus is, to be sure, narrow but our interests are broad, wide, and deep. We like analyzing a subject from multiple perspectives so that we can understand all the relevant implications. Dr. Moran cannot afford that same luxury, so he is reduced to the role of a heckler, completely oblivious of blessings that flow from asking hard questions, listening closely to the answers, and following up with yet harder questions---continually. With him it is a risk to be avoided at all costs. With us, it is a benefit to be enjoyed. StephenB
The Scientific Case For Intelligent Design - William Dembski, PhD - Apr 12, 2014 - video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_2d7aKN-X5M bornagain77
predictions about the % of junk DNA in humans
Maybe we should retire the term "junk DNA" and talk about functional DNA (broken down into coding and non-coding) and non-functional DNA. The greater the percentage of functional DNA the more likely it is the result of intelligent activity so it is an ID issue. Then we could discuss whether the non-functional DNA was consistent with intelligent activity. As for Shroud of Turin, it is also subject to the scrutiny as to whether it was caused by intelligent activity and whether there is a logical conclusion about it that flows from the design inference. So are the Easter Island statues and Stonehenge etc and of course Mt. Rushmore. For the Shroud of Turin, a) a painting by some unknown artist with some unknown technique b) a transfer of an image by some biological/chemical/physical process that is also unknown c) a fixation of elements of the shroud caused by some intelligence through some unknown process d) make us something. The explanatory filter was made for things like this. jerry
Eric Anderson, good points. Re Moran, it's worth noting that today, you can be a prof and behave like that. A possible outcome of naturalism in the academy? News
If people would be more careful -- and more clear -- about what intelligent design claims and what it doesn't, most of the conflicts and disagreements will be seen for what they are: conflicts and disagreements that do not flow from intelligent design itself. Intelligent design covers an extremely limited question: are some things more likely the result of intelligent activity than the result of purposeless natural processes. That's it. Period. Nothing about God. Nothing about Christianity. Nothing about the Bible. Nothing about the age of the Earth. Nothing even (gasp!) about whether we have some be-all-and-end-all definition of "intelligence" or "consciousness" that will satisfy everyone in the world. The big tent is a big tent because it is very limited in scope and addresses an issue that almost everyone who is not a committed materialist can agree on, from religious people of all stripes, to agnostics, even to a number of atheists. If people want to discuss the age of the Earth, or what Genesis says, or the Shroud of Turin, or the infallibility of the Bible, or the role of neutral evolution, or their personal predictions about the % of junk DNA in humans, or any such notions, that is of course their prerogative and often makes for interesting discussion. But such individuals -- all of us -- should make it clear when doing so that we are not drawing any kind of logical conclusion that flows from the design inference, we are not stating some kind of "official" ID position, we are not making claims that every ID proponent has to agree with. Yes, there is a big tent. It is not a weakness of intelligent design. It is the strength. By homing in on the key foundational issue, ID gives us the ability to strongly and sharply differentiate between those who believe (yes, "believe"), that matter and energy are all there is, versus those who believe that intelligence is a real and manifest part of reality. Many, many people can agree on this point. Even people who otherwise have wildly differing viewpoints on other issues. So be it. Intelligent design is not intended to be a theory of everything; it has never claimed to be a theory of everything. It focuses on an extremely narrow, yet highly interesting question. We can celebrate that. We can acknowledge that narrow focus. We can come together on this particular point. And it doesn't mean we must never disagree on anything else or that we can never discuss other issues. ----- Incidentally, I rarely comment on threads about Moran's rants, and I find it a bit strange that so much ink is spilled on someone who appears at times incapable of objective discourse. Anyone who repeatedly refers to his opponents in a debate with juvenile tags or charged labels is perhaps not open to rational discussion. But, as I said, if people want to discuss side issues, that is their prerogative. Makes for interesting discussion sometimes. :) Eric Anderson
As I told Larry on his blog- it isn't as if every evolutionist agrees on all things evolution. And as I proved to Larry most of his evo posters don't even understand what modern evolution biology entails. Joe
they always manage to cover up those conflicts and present a united front in attacking evolution
I agree with Mung. There has been overt disagreement here amongst those who support ID. I was once banned by Dembski because I disagreed with him. I thought he was too soft in disputing a Darwinist. I was once banned by DaveScot for disagreeing with him. Barry censured me in a OP not too long ago. And he was obviously wrong. I find that some of the people who support ID have an agenda and it is usually an exploration for the truth which is good or attempts to distort the truth for personal reasons so we should also always be ready to provide other opinions or debate them too. The naturalist are deeply divided on a lot of issues. We point this out like it means the end of naturalism. It is nothing of the sort. NS is still the big kahuna with the naturalist approach. Moran is big on drift and drift never led to anything of importance. Others minimize NS and search for the origin of variation within natural processes. Read the post by Allen MacNeill over the years. Meyer's book has a list of most of them. No body thinks they are going away because of these disagreements. jerry
Mung at 2, Crucial is from "crux" = a crossroads, dividing point If the conflict was considered crucial (as opposed to internal politics), we would have split up a long time ago. The fact that no one in a group feels the incentive to do stuff like that, or if they do, can't get others interested, is - in my view - the best evidence that it isn't a crucial conflict. News
What should be done is that the ID establishment should make an effort to push back against the Darwinists in that they should focus on telling the tax payers who have kids in college to make an effort t stop supporting the Darwinist agenda in colleges and universities a as well as high schools. Most of america doesn't believe in Darwinian evolution , so why are we being duped into funding it?? I just can't understand why more effort isn't made to progress in this area . We as Americans are funding Darwinian evolution THE QUESTION IS WHY.? wallstreeter43
Science, access, and communication have never been as they are today. The Big Tent is the grease that we must allow ourselves as we individually come to terms with certain issues for the first time in human history. Upright BiPed
It’s not a coverup. The people involved don’t feel the conflicts are crucial.
I just cant' agree with that, Denyse. StephenB seems to be rabidly anti-TE and it's probably the case that I am rabidly anti-YEC. That we can somehow band together against what is perceived as a "common enemy" does not mean the conflicts are not crucial, they are. So just what is the "big tent of ID"? Creationism, broadly conceived? Belief in Intelligent Design (Goddidit)? Acceptance of intelligent design as a scientific enterprise? Anti-Darwinism? Does that mean we can welcome Larry Moran to "the big tent"? Let me explain further: YEC'ism is at it's core a hermeneutical position concerning the proper interpretation of Scripture. It's got nothing to do with science. The "science of ID" cannot be driven by arguments over biblical hermeneutics. YEC'ism is not about science, it's about hermeneutics. ID is not about hermeneutics, it's about science. Where's the big tent? Mung
Hey News, IDQuest recently loaded 5 very good video lectures you might like to highlight: https://www.youtube.com/user/IDquest/videos This one immediately caught my eye: Information and the End of Materialism - William Dembski, PhD https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7nIj5RpzIn8 bornagain77

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