Intelligent Design

Professor Mohamed Noor: A gentleman and a scholar

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Earlier this week, I put up a post about Professor Mohamed Noor, of Duke University, who also runs a free online course entitled, “Introduction to Genetics and Evolution” through Coursera, which “gives interested people a very basic overview of the principles behind these very fundamental areas of biology … and tries to clarify some misconceptions.” People I know who have completed the course have praised it for the quality of its exposition.

In the final lecture of the course for 2012, Professor Noor put up a Powerpoint slide claiming that Hitler believed in Intelligent Design. In my post, I argued that Professor Noor’s claim reflected a misunderstanding on his part of what Intelligent Design actually is.

It takes a big man to publicly admit a mistake and rectify it. So I was deeply impressed when I received the following email from Professor Noor, which I’m quoting with his permission:

Dear Mr. Torley:

I read with interest your recent blog entry:
http://www.uncommondescent.com/intelligent-design/noors-non-sequitur-or-did-hitler-believe-in-intelligent-design/

While I may not agree with your overall perspective, in fairness, you make some good points on that particular statement in that particular slide. I am convinced that you are very right that I inappropriately
conflated Intelligent Design with basic creationism (though I disagree with other facets in that I think he was indeed a creationist). You conclude with, “Let us therefore hope that Professor Noor amends his last slide before his next online course starts in January 2013.” Given your points, I am indeed convinced to amend that slide. I plan for my next iteration to delete the specific reference to Intelligent Design in that slide.

Thanks for diplomatically attacking this point with information, rather than taking on a stance of grandstanding.

Sincerely,
Mohamed Noor

I would encourage readers to sign up for Professor Noor’s course here and let others know what they think of it, and what they learned from it.

I would like to conclude by thanking Professor Noor for his kind words. He is indeed a gentleman and a scholar.

35 Replies to “Professor Mohamed Noor: A gentleman and a scholar

  1. 1
    Mung says:

    Bravo Dr. Noor!

  2. 2
    Mung says:

    And bravo to our very own own VJT who wrote his OP in such a style as to receive such respect and consideration.

  3. 3
    JoeCoder says:

    It’s a Christmas miracle!

  4. 4
    Upright BiPed says:

    Vincent, you are truly very special.

    And to Dr Noor, thank you very, very much. We can easily measure your simple gesture by the number of times we’ve witnessed it. For me personally, in several years of watching, I can’t remember that I’ve ever seen it until now.

    Thank you!

  5. 5
    Robert Byers says:

    WAIT a minute!
    All he was , repenting, of was saying Adolph was a ID.
    He was saying he was a YEC.
    He still has been incompetent about these assertions.
    Admitting a little leads credence to further scrunity about his research abilities.
    Hitler was not a CHristian in any sense of a believer.
    He did not believe in Adam or Noah or anything YEC.
    His creationism was simple ideas of a God and man made by a God.
    to say Hitler was a creationist is saying he’s one of us.
    Its like pointing out his being right handed is a reflection on right handed people.
    I read Mien Kamph and it was full of evolutionary presumptions if selective.
    He was MORE of a evolutionist then a creationist if one is scoring.

    He introduced the subject and is almost being a smart alec in this letter.
    its a shot at creationists.
    he is so saying Hitler was one of them.
    This is absurd to say this by one who is inheriting Christian civilization yet is not acting like a Christian gentleman.
    Non ID creationists here need this guy to do more correction.
    Is it possible if he’s wrong about the Hitler/YEC/ID thing then he’s wrong about genetics backing up evolution?
    A watergate of poor scholarship.

  6. 6
    kairosfocus says:

    VJT:

    While iindeed t is important to note the change, and it is good that Dr Noor is willing to concede at least one point, it is quite plain that there is still a regrettable undertone that Mr Byers is right to complain of.

    First, let us never make the error highlighted by the apostle James in the famous passage where he stated that faith without works is dead:

    James 2:14 What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? 15 Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. 16 If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? 17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

    18 But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.”

    Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds. 19 You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.

    20 You foolish person, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless[d]? 21 Was not our father Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? 22 You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. 23 And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,”[e] and he was called God’s friend. 24 You see that a person is considered righteous by what they do and not by faith alone. [NIV ’84]

    In short, in an unquestionably foundational document of the Christian Faith, it is highlighted that unless one’s belief in God leads to penitent trust in God and amending of life towards the good and the true, it is useless and possibly outright devilish.

    So, even if Hitler WERE a creedal Christian — and the evidence points rather to a species of skepticism blended with some degree of neo-pagan occultism (that notorious astrologer is an index . . . ) — that would be by no means enough.

    His manner of life showed a clear want of repentance towards the good and the true.

    Going further, as a reader called my attention to the need for yesterday, given that there are those who would try to taint the Christian Faith by invidious association with Hitler, we must point out that Hitler in fact was positively and blasphemously anti-Christian. Cf here for specific documentation (HT: reader X) with a visual demonstration here of the brazen demonic blasphemy — such is needed for those who will not trouble themselves to actually READ facts — involved in Nazi political messianism.

    But also, we can show much more as the previous thread brought up. Hitler’s whole scheme from the title of “My Struggle” on was Social Darwinist, where from Descent of Man chs 5 – 7 we can clearly see that Darwin was among the first social darwinists. The German branch of Darwinism was imbued into Hitler’s thought, through and through as can be documented in cite after cite. Indeed, I would argue that the “creator” he had in his private mind may well have been some immanent occult force embedded in the world that in his mind found its ultimate expression in the evolution of the Aryan race. And most certainly, as the already linked poster shows beyond any doubt, he presented himself as anointed with that spirit.

    In that light, it is unfair and untruthful to the point of slander to try to taint the Creationists of today with Hitler’s version of Nietzschean superman political messianism, occultism and linked social darwinism.

    And that is without even addressing the fact that design theory is not to be equated with Creationism. Something that the Creationists themselves highlight, warning their supporters away from design thought. (And the information on this is not exactly hard to find, so there is a duty of care to the truth and fairness issue here.)

    Finally, we must put on the table the eugenics movement that expressed many of the same underlying forces and factors, and which was very broadly accepted among Darwinist elites (including the family of Darwin), was embedded in textbooks such as the one at the pivot of the Scopes Monkey Trial, and which targetted entire races and subcultures for destruction as allegedly inferior.

    Including my own.

    We need to face the truth about the implications of Darwinism as it was applied in the name of science and upliftment (including family planning and population control), for decades.

    Science cannot be severed from ethics, and we need to face frankly some serious ethical failings [including — as Plato warned against so long ago now in The Laws Bk X — the inherent amorality of evolutionary materialism, that ancient philosophy that so often likes to dress itself up in the robes of science especially on matters of origins . . . ], drawing some painful lessons, lest we be doomed to repeat the same blunders.

    GEM of TKI

  7. 7
    Graham2 says:

    I dont get it. The guy is giving a course that is Evolution all the way, and you complain about what Hitler was thinking ? Hitler ? Are you serious ? What does it matter ? Who cares ? UD is the craziest place.

  8. 8
    kairosfocus says:

    Graham2: The problem, as you should know, is well-poisoning by invidious association, in this case by appeal to alleged association with Hitler — a now all to common tactic of Darwinism and atheism advocates, starting with the likes of Dawkins’ talking point that questioning the “fact” of naturalistic macroevolution is tantamount to Holocaust denial, and then worse, much, much worse. The assertion was irrelevant to whatever substance was in the course, but will — doubtless, did — poison minds. So, it is entirely in order to correct it. With all due respect, your dismissive piling on is out of order. KF

  9. 9
    Andre says:

    Objective morals and values exist! 🙂

  10. 10
    Graham2 says:

    “alleged association with Hitler” ? Who, me ? Noor ? I dont understand.

    If you spoke plain English (rather than cliche-ese) it might help.

    And the bible-quotes. Oh, but ID isnt creationism. Oh no.

  11. 11
    Gregory says:

    “Hitler believed in Intelligent Design: “For it was by the Will of God that men were made of a certain bodily shape” – Dr. Mohamed Noor

    All Dr. Noor really needs to do is to decapitalise ‘Intelligent Design.’ Iow, just change his sentence to “Hitler believed in intelligent design” or “Hitler believed human beings were ‘designed’ by an intelligent agent, i.e. by God.”

    Whether or not Hitler did actually believe that (and what need there is to involve his religious or anti-religious beliefs in an Introduction to Genetics and Evolution course) is the next question.

    The Intelligent Design Movement/Community holds no copyright or monopoly over ‘design’ or ‘intelligence,’ after all. Most reasonable people hear the implications of ID theories loud and clear, like a dog whistle being blown that IDists don’t want people to howl about because it hurts their chances of being seen as a ‘scientifically’ acceptable theory of Origins. The real ‘design theorists,’ the ones who produce on a massive scale around the world, who engage in documented scientific research and development that leads to practical and demonstrable results, who are accepted openly and feel no need to hide, who are embraced and not expelled, are left out in the cold by Intelligent Design Theory and its implicationism.

    Dr. Noor might want to go for a short walk on his campus to the engineering department to visit Dr. Adrian Bejan, also at Duke University, to discover how one can look at ‘design in nature’ without any supposed ‘implications’ of transcendence or divinity. Bejan’s book “Design in Nature” is almost a year old, but no review of it has appeared at UD yet, aside from johnnyb’s inclusion of a speech about it at his conference.

    “Of course, there is not conscious intelligence behind these patterns, no Divine Architect churning out brilliant blueprints. To preempt any confusion, let me make this perfectly clear: The constructal law is not headed toward a creationist argument, and in no way does it support the claims of those who promulgate the fantasy of intelligent design. Anyone who takes excerpts from this book to suggest that I am arguing for a spiritual sense of ‘designedness’ is engaging in an intentional act of dishonesty.” – Adrian Bejan

    Personally, I don’t think Hitler was a ‘creationist.’ Noor can disagree, but I don’t think Hitler was a Christian either. Neither is Bejan a ‘creationist’ nor does it seem is he a religious believer. But he still speaks of design in nature ‘scientifically.’

  12. 12
    bornagain77 says:

    Graham you rail:

    “And the bible-quotes. Oh, but ID isnt creationism. Oh no.”

    Okie dokie, I’m with you Graham2, let’s get ‘scientific’ by golly!! please provide evidence for neo-Darwinism without resorting to Theology as Darwin did in his book Origin or as Darwinists still continue to do today (i.e. God would not have done it that way):

    The Theodicy of Darwinism
    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-441864

    i.e. Graham, since you agree strongly that Theological a-priori beliefs should not determine scientific truths, then please provide empirical evidence for purely neo-Darwinian processes producing just one molecular machine!

    Michael Behe – No Scientific Literature For Evolution of Any Irreducibly Complex Molecular Machines
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/5302950/

    “The response I have received from repeating Behe’s claim about the evolutionary literature, which simply brings out the point being made implicitly by many others, such as Chris Dutton and so on, is that I obviously have not read the right books. There are, I am sure, evolutionists who have described how the transitions in question could have occurred.” And he continues, “When I ask in which books I can find these discussions, however, I either get no answer or else some titles that, upon examination, do not, in fact, contain the promised accounts. That such accounts exist seems to be something that is widely known, but I have yet to encounter anyone who knows where they exist.”
    David Ray Griffin – retired professor of philosophy of religion and theology

    of related note to the fact that Darwinists have ZERO empirical evidence of Darwinian processes EVER producing a molecular machine, here is an example that intelligent design can do as such:

    (Man-Made) DNA nanorobot – video
    https://vimeo.com/36880067

    footnotes:

    “Our experience-based knowledge of information-flow confirms that systems with large amounts of specified complexity (especially codes and languages) invariably originate from an intelligent source from a mind or personal agent.”
    (Stephen C. Meyer, “The origin of biological information and the higher taxonomic categories,” Proceedings of the Biological Society of Washington, 117(2):213-239 (2004).)

    Is intelligent design merely an “argument from ignorance?” (Dembski’s Design Filter)
    http://www.ideacenter.org/cont.....hp/id/1186

    Stephen Meyer – The Scientific Basis for the Intelligent Design Inference – video
    http://vimeo.com/32148403

  13. 13
    bornagain77 says:

    OT; Happy End Of The World Day,

    It’s The End Of The World As We Know It (and I Feel Fine…) – music
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_eyFiClAzq8

  14. 14
    kairosfocus says:

    Graham2:

    Pardon, but do you see how you have put your well-poisoning attitude on display?

    FYI, a specific context in which Christian, Biblical teachings are relevant, is on the table. That, in response to a pretty serious and even smearing invidious association.

    FYFI, there is a duty of care to the truth and to fairness at work. Even, to the often despised and dismissed Creationists.

    So, in a day and age where many are ignorant of the actual Bible based Christian teaching on the matter, I therefore cited an appropriate foundational Christian text, which explicitly teaches that merely believing in God is consistent with devilish attitudes and behaviour. That is, I underscored through the apostle James, that theism as a worldview is not enough to be Christian, there is a requirement of penitence and change of life to the good.

    That is, even if Hitler were to acknowledge a creedal view such as the Nicene Creed or the like, his behaviour is a material issue and it plainly says that he is at best anti-christian, which here means counterfeit. So, someone concerned to be truthful and fair would acknowledge this.

    I then went on to show in outline that in fact he balance of evidence is that he was blatantly anti-Christian, a political messiah who did not shun to use blasphemously twisted caricatures of key Christian events and teachings in his self promotion. To the discerning or simply the fair-minded, that would immediately show him to be the very opposite of Christian.

    I then went on to further outline that he was probably a somewhat skeptical, neo-pagan occultist, who seems to have had a view of a spirit animating nature and leading to the evolutionary rise of Aryan Man; who, having been largely lost was to be recovered in our day by restoring the super race. This is BTW very consistent with the line of mythical, mystical teaching one would see from Ms Blavatsky and co. And, that is a key context for the use of the swastika.

    In addition there are clear indications in his book, My Struggle, and in other materials, that show social darwinist influences and eugenics movement influences.

    In turn, these lead to a need to make some very sobering reflections on ethics of science and the challenges faced by the inherently amoral philosophy, evolutionary materialism. Issues put on the table ever since Plato.

    How do you retort?

    By making cheap shots about Bible quotes, as though this proves that the design inference and design theory are essentially religious and boil down to the sneer, creationism in a cheap tuxedo.

    Such is irresponsible, and telling.

    If you genuinely want to know something about ID, I suggest you take a look here for an explanation that is at least fair. Then, you may wish to examine here on. And since you have made statements with pretty serious insinuations you have a plain duty to investigate and to correct yourself.

    Otherwise, you are simply playing the troll.

    KF

  15. 15
    kairosfocus says:

    Gregory: You cannot be ignorant of the context and the associated invidious associations being made by making such a claim in such a context, where Hitler simply had no relevant scientific qualifications or achievements. Shame on you for stooping so low. KF

  16. 16
    vjtorley says:

    Hi kairosfocus,

    Thank you for your posts. You are absolutely right when you point out that today’s creationist movement has nothing in common with Hitler in regard to its moral or religious beliefs.

    When I read Professor Noor’s statement above that he still considered Hitler to be a creationist, I interpreted him as using the word “creationist” broadly, to mean anyone who thinks that some intelligent, supernatural being actively directed the formation of the first human body.

    You and I, on the other hand, would define “creationist” to mean: someone who believes the Bible is God’s word, and that it teaches that God made the first man from the dust of the ground, and the first woman from his side, and that all human beings are made in the image of God.

    It is obvious that Hitler, who feared neither God nor man, did not share these beliefs. Hitler’s insidious racism reflects the fact that he did not regard all humans as being made in God’s image. Moreover, the God he believed in seemed to have been some Nature deity, who destined the Aryans for greatness – a bizarre and blasphemous notion.

  17. 17
    vjtorley says:

    Hi Gregory,

    You make a good point about the distinction between (capitalized) Intelligent Design, and (lower case) intelligent design. The latter belief does not require that the Designer left any visible, discernible traces of His activity.

    Dr. Adrian Bejan’s book on design in nature sounds very interesting, and I’m awaiting detailed reports on the book’s key ideas, from those who have read it. Although Bejan has little time for ID, it seems that he does have a lot to say about the design process and the mathematics of good design, which the ID community would do well to listen to. I therefore think Bejan’s book deserves to be taken very seriously by Intelligent Design proponents. A sympathetic book review would indeed be in order. ID advocates need to study his works more attentively.

  18. 18
    vjtorley says:

    Robert Buyers,

    Thank you for your comment. Please see my post #16 above, to kairosfocus. That should answer your questions.

  19. 19
    Gregory says:

    vjtorley,

    Thanks for your careful attention to the issue of capitalisation here and in the other thread.

    “You make a good point about the distinction between (capitalized) Intelligent Design, and (lower case) intelligent design. The latter belief does not require that the Designer left any visible, discernible traces of His activity.” – vjtorley

    As I linked to my views about Big-ID (or upper case) and small-id (or lower case) in the other thread, let me just add here that what is most contentious about whether or not “the Designer [leaves] any visible, discernible traces of His activity,” is mainly about whether or not science or theology is most (or entirely) appropriate to ‘detect’ or ‘recognise’ them. Big-ID says it is science; small-id says it is theology (thus the great irony; upper case = Science, lower case = theology).

    As I view it, small-id *does* theologically speak of discernible traces, e.g. Romans 1:20, Quran 40:57, Psalms 19:1.

    Do I understand your position properly that because you capitalise Designer and refer to “His activity” you are speaking theologically and not scientifically about ID? Iow, you do not require a ‘scientific’ defence of Big-ID because you aready accept small-id on theological grounds.

    The Big-ID (capitalised) Intelligent Design in your other thread would then become more understandable, though it would contradict the Big-ID meaning of ‘science-only’ among IDists.

    In regard to Bejan, it is good to see you support that “the ID community would do well to listen” and “ID advocates need to study his works more attentively.” Thus far, my words about ‘design theory’ properly belonging not in biology, but in studies of human artefacts has made little progress here. I agree with you about Bejan, however, and have written about this more in detail here.

  20. 20
    kairosfocus says:

    VJT: I hear you, though I note to you too that Mr Schicklegruber was not a scientist or a learned person in any wise. Given the wider cultural issues and the talking points out there, if Dr Noor did not mean an invidious association he would have been very well advised to steer well clear of Hitler. Beyond that, I would suggest that the god that that gentleman believed in and seems to have served, is quite different from Him who expects that we live by the truth, the right and the good. And, even then, it is possible to be a theist or even to adhere to Christian creedal faith, and still fail to be anything more than devilish. Per the foundational principles, repentance and reformation to the good are essential requirements of genuine Christian commitment. KF

  21. 21
    kairosfocus says:

    Gregory:

    Pardon but your idiosyncratic usage creates many lines of obfuscation where such is not needed.

    Design theory, as founded as a minor but significant research programme, is not about a theological deduction or inference, but an inductive empirical inference to best explanation, on tested, reliable observable signs.

    While I am not so naive as to believe at this point that you will accept the point, I speak for record.

    Namely, when we deal with the remote and unobservable by direct means, we are forced to infer on traces of what is or was there, in light of the present observed causal patterns and consequences that leave sufficiently similar results. This has been studied in modern science since Newton and his four rules.

    In the case where a specific causal factor is found to leave a characteristic consequence, the inference is one on sign. Similar to how accelerant at the scene of a house fire is a marker of arson. Or, to how certain spectral lines in the light from stars leads us to infer on their chemical composition, though we cannot take them into a test tube and assess them through chemical processes.

    In the case of design theory, it is well observed that functionally specific, complex information and/or associated organisation beyond 500 – 1,000 bits — when present — are characteristic results from design. A simple case is posts in this thread.

    Where also on needle in haystack grounds, it is maximally implausible that the other observed source of highly contingent outcomes, chance (whether by itself or in concert with forces of mechanical necessity), could produce such FSCO/I. This is because the threshold of complex function sufficiently isolates the functional clusters of configs in the space of possibilities, that the atomic resources of the solar system or even the observed cosmos are grossly inadequate. At the lower end, the resources of our solar system for its reasonable lifespan, would be able to sample as one straw sized sample to a cubical haystack 1,000 light years on the side.

    Attempts to suggest that there are continents of function or that function is common in such a space, founder on the observations we have in hand. Multiple part function dependent on precise configuration, is not likely to come about just so by happenstance, as well we know.

    So, we haqve reason to infer that we have in hand a useful sign of design. Which is a sign of design, not a tool that identifies any particular designer. Though, the wider context may point to such an identity. Just asl arson comes first before we are sure we have an arsonist. Indeed, that is the present state of the investigation into firebombing of a court here. Arson, on accelerant, but no clear evidence as to the identity of the arsonists.

    But, eventually there may be evidence in the wider context that allows us to conclude on who was the guilty party.

    (So, here we see an actual ongoing case of identification of design on signs, without knowledge of the relevant designers.)

    We could go on and on, but this is not the main issue in this thread and the thread is on an important topic.

    You may choose to accept the above or disagree as you please. But, we are then entitled to draw our own conclusions about how you have approached the problem.

    KF

  22. 22
    Mung says:

    Gregory:

    The real ‘design theorists,’ the ones who produce on a massive scale around the world, who engage in documented scientific research and development that leads to practical and demonstrable results, who are accepted openly and feel no need to hide, who are embraced and not expelled, are left out in the cold by Intelligent Design Theory and its implicationism.

    To be sure, we’ll make use of anything they write if we can. Is there a free online journal?

    Bejan’s book “Design in Nature” is almost a year old, but no review of it has appeared at UD yet, aside from johnnyb’s inclusion of a speech about it at his conference.

    It sounded looney and I didn’t want to waste the money on it when I still have so many other good books to read.

  23. 23

    This is good news. As I said on the other thread, Dr. Noor’s class was very good, and there were just a couple of “indoctrination” points along the way.

    Kudos to Dr. Noor for taking vjtortley’s discussion to heart and making a positive change in the class materials for next time around.

    I didn’t have any expectations that Dr. Noor would see the discussion or change anything even if he did, but I believe he did the right thing and he has earned further respect in my book.

  24. 24
    Robert Byers says:

    vjtorley
    Thanks for the reply on this matter.
    It was too me seeming this fella was tainting all, then some, creationist conclusions with HItler and so badddddd.
    I suspect it was his intention and he backed off but then swung around.
    anyways.
    Hitler was not motivated for evil by beliefs about God and Jesus.
    He was just a human who adapted vague ideas of these things to his beliefs.
    The Canadian , American, British and other allies who were victimized by HItler had heaps of creationists in their ranks and meant to do good.
    In fact all those victims of hitler would of had heaps of creationists in their ranks and all who fought for justice likewise.
    Charles Darwin and his great critics would likewise of been enemies of Hitler for the sake of justice.

  25. 25
    Graham2 says:

    kairosfocus at #14: I actually followed one of your links (in a genuine effort to correct the error of my ways) and where did it go … to New World Encyclopedia, a Unification Church rag.

  26. 26
    kairosfocus says:

    Graham2: If you had bothered to actually check why I used the source — not even yet, address contents on the merits — you would have seen that the article is advised by a MEMBER of the unification church, by the name of Dr Jonathan Wells [as in Fellow of DI], and I assure you it is accurate. A whole lot more accurate than the hatchet job at Wikipedia. And, I can back that point up in details, anytime. (And I could have directed you to the resources tab top of this and every UD page instead, but simply decided to use a convenient source. BTW, the NWE usually starts form Wiki articles, and then cleans them up by referencing sound sources, leading to Wiki plus cleanups for the subjects it tackles; and leading to pretty good articles on the whole, for that matter, as a lifelong walking encyclopedia type, Wiki is often quite good once the usual polarised topics are not on the table. In this case, that Wiki + fixup could not be done, Wiki is so bad. So, you just got yourself a grade F, for seeking an excuse to avoid dealing with an issue on the merits. You just told me that you are not serious. Good day. KF

  27. 27
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: I forgot to mention, before heading out the door for family ferry duties, you also managed to try a poisonous diversion from the actual issue on the table. F- (and yes, I once put that on a kid’s report for refusing to do his homework and assignments). KF

  28. 28
    vjtorley says:

    Hi kairosfocus,

    F-minus? That’s the funniest thing I’ve heard all week!

  29. 29
    Graham2 says:

    I checked the entry for Evolution in Wiki vs NWE (I didnt know NWE even existed till now) and the latter, was a total rewrite, it appeared to be written by an amateur, with frequent bad grammar even in the headings. Couldnt they even get an English speaker to check the grammar?.

    Is this where UD gets its info ? It would explain quite a lot.

  30. 30
    vjtorley says:

    Hi Gregory,

    You ask:

    Do I understand your position properly that because you capitalise Designer and refer to “His activity” you are speaking theologically and not scientifically about ID? Iow, you do not require a ‘scientific’ defence of Big-ID because you already accept small-id on theological grounds.

    Uh, no. When I speak about the capital I, capital D Intelligent Designer, I mean the intelligent agent(s) whose existence is identifiable by scientific reasoning, and who is responsible for (a) the high level of specified complexity we find in living things, and/or (b) the fine-tuning of the universe we live in, and/or (c) the fine-tuning and mathematical beauty of the multiverse. The arguments for this Designer are scientific, not theological. Science alone cannot tell us (at present) whether this Designer is God, but it certainly leaves that possibility wide open. Additional arguments from metaphysics (not science, and not religion) are then required to show that this intelligent agent must either be uncaused or must depend on an uncaused, self-explanatory Being, and that this uncaused Being must be necessary, simple and infinite, as a contingent, composite or finite being would require further explanation. However, these metaphysical arguments are well within the grasp of ordinary people.

    You also write:

    As I view it, small-id *does* theologically speak of discernible traces, e.g. Romans 1:20, Quran 40:57, Psalms 19:1.

    As I use the term, small i, small d, intelligent design refers to the belief that at least some things in Nature are in fact designed by some intelligence (which may or may not be divine), even if we have no way of establishing this scientifically. But Scripture refers to God’s existence as abundantly evident, even to the pagans:

    For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities — his eternal power and divine nature — have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. (Romans 1:20, NIV)

    If these “invisible qualities” can be clearly seen by ordinary people, they must be all the more obvious to science, even if science cannot currently tell us whether the Designer is God. In other words, I interpret Romans 1:20 as saying that the evidence for the Designer is empirical rather than theological. Hence Romans 1:20 could be said to be about a proto-version of Intelligent Design, based on first-century science. Today, as skeptical arguments have grown more sophisticated, we need a much more tightly argued case for a Designer. Hence the modern ID movement.

    Hope that helps.

  31. 31
    vjtorley says:

    Graham2,

    You really ought to read more widely. You refer to “frequent bad grammar even in the headings” of the NWE article on evolution. Well, I had a look at the headings in the NWE article and the only one which stood out was this one: “Evidences of evolution.” You probably think that’s bad grammar, don’t you? Wrong. Says who? Says Dr. Douglas Theobald over at Talk Origins, that’s who. See here. Dr. Theobald is the author of 29+ Evidences for Macroevolution. He writes:

    The word “evidences,” as a plural of the noun “evidence,” is currently used secularly at least seven times in the latest edition of the Columbia Encyclopedia (Sixth Edition 2001), mostly in a legal context.

    The infamous term is also sparingly used in modern scientific literature. For example, a search for “evidences” in the text of all online HighWire journals gets over 1000 hits. The title of an article, of course, is the part most closely inspected by journal editors. A more limited search of only the titles of scientific articles in the PubMed database returns over 250 documents. For example, the term “evidences,” as a conspicuous member of a paper’s title, has made it past the editors of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Science, the Journal of the American Chemical Society, the Journal of Molecular Evolution, Cancer, the Journal of Biological Chemistry, Physical Review Letters, Biochimica and Biophysica Acta, Nucleic Acids Research, Virology, Genetics, and the Federation of European Biochemical Societies Letters, some of the world’s most prestigious scientific journals (note that a small minority of these articles use “evidences” as a transitive verb). For comparison, a title-word search at PubMed for the co-opted word “proofs” returns only 25 articles (many of which are used in a mathematical context, and don’t really count).

    Here are some more citations from Dr. Theobald’s article.

    Thomas Henry Huxley (1825-1895).
    Evidences as to Man’s Place in Nature. (1863)

    “Palaeontology and the Doctrine of Evolution.” (1870)

    “When the fossil remains which are the evidences of these successive changes, as they have occurred in any two more or less distant parts of the surface of the earth, are compared, they exhibit a certain broad and general parallelism. ”

    Huxley, in fact, used the word evidences quite frequently in his scientific writings.

    ————————-

    Sir Charles Lyell (1797-1875).
    The Geological Evidences of the Antiquity of Man. (1863)

    ————————-

    George John Romanes, LL. D. (1848-1894).
    The Scientific Evidences of Organic Evolution. (1883)

    Are you saying that Huxley’s grammar is bad too?

    By the way, I had a look at the NWE article on evolution, and it’s remarkably fair-minded. Have a look at this:

    Evidence for common descent may be found in traits shared between all living organisms. In Darwin’s day, the evidence of shared traits was based solely on visible observation of morphologic similarities, such as the fact that all birds—even those which do not fly — have wings. Today, the theory of common descent is supported by genetic similarities. For example, every living cell makes use of nucleic acids as its genetic material, and uses the same twenty amino acids as the building blocks for proteins. All organisms use the same genetic code (with some extremely rare and minor deviations) to translate nucleic acid sequences into proteins. The universality of these traits strongly suggests common ancestry, because the selection of these traits seems somewhat arbitrary.

    Does that sound biased against the theory of evolution to you?

  32. 32
    kairosfocus says:

    VJT: Thanks for your patience with our remedial student, KF

    PS: Yup, I did give that kid his F-.

  33. 33
    kairosfocus says:

    G2: You tried to imply that to use the Bible was radioactive, in a context where the Bible’s teaching was highly relevant. Having been corrected you have found every distractive tangent you can, to avoid addressing substance while trying to imply idiocy or the like. All of this underscores that you have nothing substantial to say on serious matters; you have now earned an F–, a grade below zero. As in you have to pass well just to get out of the basement. KF

  34. 34
    kairosfocus says:

    Hey, that was F- – (so much for software too smart for its own good).

  35. 35
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N 2: With due apologies for tangents, here is NWE’s lead and summary section on ID:

    Intelligent design (ID) is the view that it is possible to infer from empirical evidence that “certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause, not an undirected process such as natural selection” [1: Discovery Institute, Center for Science and Culture, Questions about Intelligent Design: What is the theory of intelligent design? Retrieved March 18, 2007.] Intelligent design cannot be inferred from complexity alone, since complex patterns often happen by chance. ID focuses on just those sorts of complex patterns that in human experience are produced by a mind that conceives and executes a plan. According to adherents, intelligent design can be detected in the natural laws and structure of the cosmos; it also can be detected in at least some features of living things.

    Greater clarity on the topic may be gained from a discussion of what ID is not considered to be by its leading theorists. Intelligent design generally is not defined the same as creationism, with proponents maintaining that ID relies on scientific evidence rather than on Scripture or religious doctrines. ID makes no claims about biblical chronology, and technically a person does not have to believe in God to infer intelligent design in nature. As a theory, ID also does not specify the identity or nature of the designer, so it is not the same as natural theology, which reasons from nature to the existence and attributes of God. ID does not claim that all species of living things were created in their present forms, and it does not claim to provide a complete account of the history of the universe or of living things.

    ID also is not considered by its theorists to be an “argument from ignorance”; that is, intelligent design is not to be inferred simply on the basis that the cause of something is unknown (any more than a person accused of willful intent can be convicted without evidence). According to various adherents, ID does not claim that design must be optimal; something may be intelligently designed even if it is flawed (as are many objects made by humans).

    ID may be considered to consist only of the minimal assertion that it is possible to infer from empirical evidence that some features of the natural world are best explained by an intelligent agent. It conflicts with views claiming that there is no real design in the cosmos (e.g., materialistic philosophy) or in living things (e.g., Darwinian evolution) or that design, though real, is undetectable (e.g., some forms of theistic evolution). Because of such conflicts, ID has generated considerable controversy.

    As I noted above, that is a fair summary.

    On the main matter of the thread, Mr Byers has a reason to be concerned, as I noted already. There is a clear issue of polarisation, and there is the point that Herr Schicklegruber was not a scientist or a philosopher. his views and beliefs SHOULD be irrelevant to a discussion of a scientific matter, so it is hard to escape the suggestion that his name was brought up to taint through invidious association, rather than for any legitimate reason.

    This should cease, and prof Noor would be well advised to refrain from such loaded references in his teaching.

    further to all this, we should note on the subject of science in society, i.e. ethics, that there are legitimate concerns about the rise of social darwinism and associated schemes such as Eugenics. ( We would be well advised to examine the logo for the 2nd Int’l congress, which is in previously linked materials on Schicklegruber. Note, this featured in the text, Civic Biology, at the centre of the Scopes Trial.)

    KF

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