Uncommon Descent Serving The Intelligent Design Community

“The Great Debate” — Ft. Worth — Nov 7th & 8th

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David Berlinski & Brad Monton vs. Denis Alexander & Larry Krauss on the topic of ID. For details go here:


I'll have what Allanius is having. Upright BiPed
Noble Mr. Darwinist! Standing strait & tall! Speak to us now of secret things! Unfold unto us from the font of your deep wisdom how all that exists and clearly looks designed was in fact the product of purely random process! The stars and the heavens! The sun and the solar system! Birds and flowers! Body plans! Eyes! Ears! The whorl of the cedar and the deep blue autumn sky! All popping into being from nothing! And overwhelming beautiful and good! Oh—I’m sorry. What was I thinking? I completely forgot to factor in those incredibly long periods of deep, deep time. Yes, that’s it. That explains it. The goldfinch that landed on the thistle outside your window yesterday is spectacularly beautiful because billions and billions of years ordained that it was so. And billions and billions of years gazed on him and saw that he was good. And evolution was content with what it had done and stopped right then and there. That should shut them up. Billions and billions of years! And if the little idiots keep cackling, I’ll tack on a few billion more! Just watch their little eyes spin at my confident calculations! You thought maybe your goldfinch was designed to look beautiful? Ho, ho, ho. Don’t be silly, little girl. Something as spectacularly beautiful as a goldfinch doesn’t need to be designed. That’s why we have deep, deep time! (Chorus flutters in from playground:) All we need is time! (Everybody now…) All we need is time! (Sing together…) All we need is time, time; Time is all we need. Walpurgis Night “But Mr. Plowman, my Sunday School teacher had us sing a song that said the Lord God made them all!” “They always say those sorts of things in Sunday School,” said Mr. Plowman with an indulgent smile. “They don’t understand there are Two Separate Magisteriums. Here in science class we tell you about everything you can see, touch and feel. There they talk about God and spiritual stuff.” “But Mr. Plowman, I can see a goldfinch perfectly well! In fact I saw one just today on my way to school! And he was so beautiful, Mr. Plowman, that he made me think of God! And I was very happy!” “Happiness has nothing to do with science,” Mr, Plowman said dully and yet unable to prevent a degree of sternness from creeping into his voice. “Science is about the facts. We don’t talk about happiness here in science class. That’s for philosophers. We talk about what we know.” “But Mr. Plowman—how can we possibly know about billions and billions of years? You’re—what—maybe 40 years old? (Frankly, you don’t look a day over 39.) And written history goes back, what, maybe five or six thousand years? Or at least that’s what they told us in Western Civ. So how can we really be sure about those billions and billions of years?” “May I suggest an experiment?” Mr. Plowman replied, his blood pressure rising. “On your next exam, when you see a question about how old the universe is, be sure to check off ‘billions and billions of years.’ If not, it won’t take you long to find out what the facts are.” “I see,” she replied. And from this little Sally concluded that it is always prudent to keep an open mind. allanius
-----Jerry: “Are your assertions written down anyplace or are they just your assumption of unwritten guidelines which scientists must accept?” I am not asserting anything. It is the Darwinist community that has imposed methodological naturalism on the scientific community. It is not my doctrine; it is theirs. -----“I understand the pressures that scientists must adhere to in their conclusions and in what they can investigate. But are they expressed anywhere specifically as doctrine outside of the philosophy of science. The whole debate is about the definition of science and who, if anyone, has the right to establish its boundaries. The vast majority of evolutionary biologists have declared that “methodological naturalism” is the standard that all scientists must adhere to, and they are prepared to enforce that arbitrary standard through any means and at all costs. This is news to you? That is what the movie “Expelled” was all about? That is what the Kansas City science standards are all about? That is what the Darwinist (and TE) battle cry, “ID is not science,” is based on? To be unaware of the significance of methodological naturalism is to be uninformed about the debate. -----“If not, then a scientist does not have to adhere to them, just be careful about how he expresses his conclusions. I recognize the political pressures that exists to rule out the investigation of miracles which in reality is not science but scientists can rule out one natural explanation after the other. It has nothing to do with miracles; it has to do with the design inference. -----"The main thing going in ID’s favor in terms of evolution is that science has investigated a countless number of natural phenomena and none have ever shown the ability to build the organized complexity we see in life or when applied to life itself the ability to increase additional organized complexity." The main thing ID has in its favor is the evidence of design, which is arrived about by observing what is called “functionally complex specified information.” The issue on the table is whether or not the scientist is permitted to make that observation in the name of science. According to “methodological naturalism,” the scientist may not do that. ----“While the carbon dating puts the cloth in the 12th-13th century, there is no known process that could have created the image on the Shroud. Every attempt so far as not been able to produce a similar image, especially ones that would have been available in the 1200’s. So what do we have, a mystery. But while this particular phenomenon is of low priority for science, there is the possibility that some time in the future someone will figure out how a 13th century man was crucified and his image indelibly imprinted on a cloth through natural processes. Till that time, many can accept a miracle but must also accept that sometime in the future a natural explanation will appear.” We are not talking about “miracles” or carbon dating or the Shroud. We are talking about the arbitrary rule of “methodological naturalism,” which declares that all inferences to design in nature are non-scientific. It was not invented to discredit creation science, which is faith based; it was invented to discredit ID, which is empirically based. This point alone proves that our enemies are lying when they say they are confused about the difference between CS and ID. If they didn’t know the difference, or were confused about it, they would not have been able to come up with an officially designated methodology that is specifically targeted to attack ID. That is why we should not take Darwinists seriously when they claim that, since ID scienetists tolerate CS advocates, ID must also be "creationist." That is also why, given the Darwinists total lack of sincerity, we should not go out of our way to win their approval by throwing YECs under the bus. To hell with their approval. StephenB
StephenB, Are your assertions written down anyplace or are they just your assumption of unwritten guidelines which scientists must accept? I understand the pressures that scientists must adhere to in their conclusions and in what they can investigate. But are they expressed anywhere specifically as doctrine outside of the philosophy of science. If not, then a scientist does not have to adhere to them, just be careful about how he expresses his conclusions. I recognize the political pressures that exists to rule out the investigation of miracles which in reality is not science but scientists can rule out one natural explanation after the other. The only conclusion is then that there are no natural explanations or that there are laws and situations which we have not discovered which could explain the phenomena. Even those who believe in God and accept the former as true or a likely possibility must acknowledge the later as also a possibility. Science will point to so many things that once were thought of as miracles but are not basic science. The main thing going in ID's favor in terms of evolution is that science has investigated a countless number of natural phenomena and none have ever shown the ability to build the organized complexity we see in life or when applied to life itself the ability to increase additional organized complexity. My example of the Shroud of Turin is such a case. While the carbon dating puts the cloth in the 12th-13th century, there is no known process that could have created the image on the Shroud. Every attempt so far as not been able to produce a similar image, especially ones that would have been available in the 1200's. So what do we have, a mystery. But while this particular phenomenon is of low priority for science, there is the possibility that some time in the future someone will figure out how a 13th century man was crucified and his image indelibly imprinted on a cloth through natural processes. Till that time, many can accept a miracle but must also accept that sometime in the future a natural explanation will appear. jerry
-----Jerry: “Methodological naturalism” is intelligent design’s greatest enemy because it presumes to define science in anti-ID terms therefore killing it before it gets out of the gate. It is an institutionalized rule which mandates that no scientist may investigate anything other than natural causes. Darwinists in the academy have imposed this bureaucratic intrusion to preserve the neo-Darwinist paradigm and to delegitimize anyone who would dissent from it. There has never been any such “rule” in the history of science; it is new and totally arbitrary. Darwinists not only insist on this unjust rule, they misrepresent history by claiming that all the great scientists of the past believed in it. On the contrary, Newton and all the other great scientists were design thinkers. During their time, they came to believe that science is “primarily” about natural causes, they never suggested that science is “exclusively” about natural causes. They did not nor would they have ever subscribed to a “rule” for such things. The reason should be obvious: Only the scientist knows which research question he wants to solve, so only the scientist can choose which methods are appropriate for answering it. The problem is less that methodological naturalism rules out the investigation of “miracles” and more that it rules out any design inference period. That means that if a scientist identifies a pattern in a DNA molecule that indicates design, he may not make that inference and remain a legitimate scientist. It is impossible to defend intelligent design or contend against its enemies without calling attention to the unjust and of this rule and denouncing it in no uncertain terms. StephenB
StephenB, I am not sure what you mean by "methdological naturalism," No where do I assume that there is no God or that God did not have an input into the world. But the number of those occasions that is documented is relatively few. There are a lot of strange things that have happened that defy explanation. For example, I spent a lot of time reading about the Shroud of Turin and once went to Turin to see it with my wife and friends. As of the moment it defies all science. Do I leave open that it is a miracle or an intervention by a higher intelligence? Yes. Is it the Judeo Christian God? I have no idea but it could be. Just think how we could create havoc with ancient civilizations with our present technology. Does that mean that one stops using the scientific method to investigate phenomenon? No. Maybe one can eventually understand how the higher intelligence created the Shroud and it may defy any natural laws we know of. There may also be natural laws we have not found yet. Do we hypothesize miracles? We keep on looking. There is dark matter and dark energy that somehow interact with our visible universe in ways that don't seem to sync up with the General Theory. By the way, natural laws says a higher intelligence to me. And it is also possible that natural methods may reveal a tinkering of our universe from beyond. Imagine a fish bowl that is controlled partially by things outside the fish bowl. Eventually some very smart fish may figure out that their world which appears self contained is influenced by things at the boundary but from deep within the fish bowl is unobservable. I am rambling but I do not know if I answered your question. As of now there are no natural laws that can account for macro evolution but they quite clearly can account for most of life through micro evolution once life has appeared in certain forms. Will science reach an impasse that some day it will have to acknowledge this or will they say we must keep on looking for the right initial and boundary conditions or maybe a new law that hasn't yet been identified. jerry
Stephen I prefer the term "Methodological Materialism"- Frost122585
You dodged my total point. I think ID should be mentioned in school because it DOES get at those bigger and more important questions. Evolution as a vehicle cannot. So you have not even spoken to thrust of your own criticism,- We should teach about origins unless we are actually going to teach about origins. You dont teach political theory and only focus on socialist thought just so you dont just focus on materialistic evolution when teaching origins. Evolution of species can be taught and should be- not like Darwin invented the whole theory of Evolution anyways- Darwin was a pigeon breeder and people knew a lot about how evolution worked before the publican of his books. That's the truth- Darwin just got the fame for a theory which existed before him and his time. I have a book of Leibniz's personal writing before Darwin was even ever born and Leibniz wrote about his fascination with "evolution." No one is trying to bury Darwin because he is already dead- we are just trying to cast out his stale yet resurrected spirit. The people out there like Berlinski and Fuller who are taking up the fight for ID are our friends. But after reading your responses I question whether you really are. Frost122585
Jerry, what is your position on "methdological naturalism?" StephenB
"you are failing to face your hypocrisy" Give me a break. Hypocrisy is one of the last words I would use to describe myself but feel free to use what you want. There is no one here who defends ID more than I do. But I don't do it blindly. Maybe I am muddled or maybe I understand some things you don't. If you want to debate ID with me, I suggest you read what I have written here first. Darwinian principles explain or are the most likely explanation for most of the evolution on the planet. Darwin wrote a book and used the word "Origin" as the main word in the title. What was the origin of all these species? It fails miserably in certain areas as you have noted and which I have been a consistent reminder to those here. But it succeeds spectacularly in other areas which is there for all to see. So it is not muddled only limited as you so rightly agree with me. My proposition is and has been for awhile, that it is best to praise Darwin for what his theory is most likely applicable for but then shoot it down for what it cannot do. It is somewhat like Newton and Einstein. Newton's theories explains nearly all physics at sub light speed but fails at speeds close to the speed of light. Similarly Darwin's ideas work very well with micro evolution but fail at macro evolution. Like Newton, Darwin looked at the visible world and gave a reasonable explanation for it. But when looked at more closely, the explanation broke down. Most of the people on this blog when I first came here and many today trash/ed the Newton part as well as the Einstein part of evolution. DaveScot says that we all agree on the Newton part now. So let's act like it and make the distinctions and then we may get a foot in the door for ID which is still very iffy scientifically. But please do not make the distinction between evolution and ID as if they refer to different explanations of the same thing. They represent different ideas. Emphasize that evolution exists and origins happened but the controversy is about mechanism and nothing else for these origins and then discuss the adequacy of mechanisms. So when I rail against those defending ID, it is on this basis. They fail to frame the argument correctly. And till they do, they are being ineffective. DaveScot said he came to bury Darwin. I do not want to bury him but only move his grave to a less prestigious burial ground. jerry
nullasalus, The book was convoluted but mainly about the inadequacy of the materialist proposition that we live in a solely deterministic world without a God. It was not so much an argument for a God or for creation but rather an undermining of the other side or casting potential doubt on the materialistic side. I found the book an unpleasant read trying to decipher all the complex phrasing. I thought I was back reading Faulkner again who I hated because of his convoluted style. There is a video of him in Washington promoting his book in which evolution came up and he essentially punted. He is on record elsewhere as saying that ID has not proved it self. He walks a line in-between and is really a gadfly. He is definitely not one of those who believes in if you are not with us you are against us. The video was several months ago so the details are not fresh in my mind. jerry
The reason why ID is always pitted against evolution- even though the two have no necessary contradiction- is because people usually fall into one of two philosophical (or theological) categories which is A) they see all of life and history as merely a chain of physical events that begin with the big bang and nothing more or B) They see a world full of organization and design. These two view points are at odds because one seeks a deeper synthesis between mind and purpose and the universe while the other seeks solely based upon human purposes. What we have here is evolutionism vs IDism. And that is the way the political war between the two camps has shaped out. This is what Steve Fuller is basically getting at when he brings theology, sociology and such to the discussion. And I think his contributions are useful- though not necessarily correct in their conclusions. Frost122585
As far as teaching about ID- I would remove "evolution" as a theory about origins all together. Evolution is a fact- a concept that describes chains of change throughout history and possibly into the future. Other concepts like natural selection and mutation are components of life's history and evolution but these are by no means explanations. They are mechanisms and they have been critiqued by Dembski and others. ID should be offered as a theoretical explanation for the order form and SC that makes up the subjects that we study in biology. Multiverse is another hypothesis that can be mentioned. These can all be brought up in biology -earth science etc. One of the problems in most public school education (and private schhols as well probably) is that they teach about origins only within an evolutionary framework instead of devoting an actual subject and classes to it. To equate evolution with "origin theories" is nothing but an gross display of ignorance on the side of educators on the side of philosophy and philosophy of science. Origins is not the only subject schools pathetically final at teaching about. Economics and investing in most schools is only available for Gifted and Honor roll students while it is actually the less bright students that need that education the most. We might not be in the economic situation we are now if school actually taught students IMPORTANT, USEFUl and impact to their lives. The reason why schools stink is because of selfishness and politics. These are the causes of deliberant ignorance… and there is no greater bias than ignorance. Frost122585
Jerry you are failing to face your hypocrisy. You are calling out ID's top advocates and assets while at the same time denouncing ID as education worthy? Then you took the line that evolution is not muddled? Give me a break! Have you learned anyhting from this site!? Evolution cannot and does not explain the origin of "specified complexity"- evolution is a theory about history and possibly what we can expect at the micro levels of life. Maybe you need to learn more about ID before you go about accusing everyone else of being confused. This is why we should teahc about ID. Frost122585
Jerry, Just as an aside, was Berlinksi's book even mostly about ID? I was under the impression his book was primarily about the limits of science to prove or disprove certain things, and had more to do with materialism, theism in a broad sense, etc. Not that I'm informed about how these guys are in debate, particularly on ID. Just, I never got the impression that Berlinski's book had much to do with ID specifically. nullasalus
"are you listening to yourself" I try to be consistent and I believe I am here. What exactly would you teach? In what classes? Evolution is not as muddled as many here think it is. One aspect of it is and that is the area I recommend be attacked. And once that weakness is accepted some of the other things people want here may come a lot easier. Right now I do not see too many people who know what ID is and can defend it well. Which is what I have been saying all along. Let's see how this debate plays out and see how good these guys are defending ID. Steve Fuller was a debacle in the one at Kings College in London and Berlinski was similarly unproductive on his book tour. jerry
Jerry are you listening to yourself!? You are criticizing those leading the ID movement and yet you don't even want ID mentioned in the schools? You are the one that is not standing up for ID... OBVIOUSLY. Evolution is just as muddled as ID so why not teach both? Look I am against public schools invoking any particular religious doctrine into science but the hypothesis that intelligence and or design is part of if not the ultimate explanation for form in the universe, IS a reasonable and rational THEORY in science. Frost122585
salvatore, I do not want ID to be taught in the schools but only that Darwinian evolution is limited. I happen to think the most deviating thing that cold happen to Darwinism would be an admission that it does not explain all. The whole ID message is muddled and if you ask the evolutionary biologist if there is a one party system in evolution they would laugh at you and tell you all about the debate within it and the rancor between individuals. Because ID is muddled, it cannot get a coherent message across. Even those who comment here are all over the lot on what they think it is. So for Fuller or whoever to go out there and argue for more inclusiveness, they are preaching to deaf ears because the form of inclusiveness he wants is to them to let in the loonies. Fuller did little to clear up this image of ID in his debate. jerry
jerry, People who want ID to be taught in the schools don't need to 'believe' in ID as if it were better supported than Neo-Darwinism. WHile ID may go on to win the day, at the moment it is clearly the underdog, and so it's strategically better to argue against Neo-Darwinian one-party dogmatism as bad pedagogical practise, which is what I take Fuller's position to be. salvatore
The important thing in this debate, IMO, is not so much who is pro-ID, but the fact that Denis Alexander is on the other side. Denis Alexander is a great opportunity to make a little bit more ground for ID. How? Because he is an evangelical Christian who is a devout Darwinian (his own words). Getting people like this on a public stage is a brilliant opportunity because he can be asked questions like, Do you believe that God caused the sun to stand still for a day (Joshua 10)? Alexander is one of a certain breed of Christian (particularly in the UK) who are doing a lot of harm to ID. They continually talk down to a Christian audience, repeating empty mantras like 'evolution is an overwhelming fact'. They never actually engage with criticisms of Darwinism when writing or talking to Christians, but fob us off with the argument from authority. Why do they never engage with criticism of Darwinism? Because academic prestige amongst the big names at Oxford and Cambridge is tremendously important to them - they themselves thrive on the authority they are held in, academically and in the Christian community. They never take on Dawkins - except on 'faith issues'. They continually talk about 'methodological naturalism' and 'God of the gaps' in their ID-bashing. However, if it were to be known that they actually DO believe that God caused the sun to stand still or that God stopped the mouths of lions from touching Daniel (Daniel 6) or that dead men sprang back to life when Elisha's body was thrown into their grave (2 Kings 13) then Alexander is caught with his pants down in public - he is exposed. IOW, Alexander stands to lose either his respect in the academic world or in the christian world (and he craves respect in both), if he is forced to answer questions about his theology, specifically whether God is able to actually DO anything in the real world in real tim - ie. if God is REAL. It is a great opportunity to drive a further wedge between the naturalism of Darwinism and the theism of people like Alexander (ie. in addition to recent events in the UK like the Reiss affair). andrew
If Fuller believes in ID, he did his best to deny it. When asked a direct question about whether he believed in ID, he avoided answering the question and deflected to something else. I suggest anyone who thinks that Fuller believes in ID, look at the video referenced above. Though as I said, it is a waste of time. Thus, as the expression goes, he "gave aid and comfort to the enemy." He did his best to undermine ID as far as I could see. jerry
Berlinski is the rarest of breeds, a genuinely thoughtful and fair-minded intellectual whose interests are extensive and the breadth and depth of his scholarship reflects that. Given everdecaying standards in the ivory towers of academia where scientism, careerism, elitism, obscurantism and the stifling censorious mind destroying agendas of political correctness and associated ideological gobbledegook rule supreme, Berlinksi stands out as one of the few genuine academics in the dumbed down circus that is the Western "academy". Berlinksi is actually interested in the pursuit of knowledge rather than egotistical and ideological aggrandisement. The kind of man I wanted to be - debonair, witty, classy, super-intelligent and genuinely humble. Damn I envy him! The only thing I have on him is that I am younger than he is, so there! However with that said, there are many things where I very much disagree with Berlinksi on btw, and not only re evolution and ID; but so what, healthy disagreement is a good and necessary thing - it's when we all start thinking alike that I will start to worry. I also want to point out something else re Berlinski and Fuller for that matter, the fact that their philosophical and even scientific position re ID is distinct from the unambiguousy explicitly pro-ID camp (most of us in other words including me) is an asset to ID. Debate and dissent within the 'Darwin dissent' camp as a whole is a good thing if we want to avoid self-satisfied groupthink that gets us ensnared in an uncritical navel-gazing loop. If ID is going to continue to evolve (pun intended) then it will do so through healthy internal challenges and dissent as much as through say new scientific discoveries favourable to an ID perspective. That is ID is multi-layered and its strengths draw from numerous directions, in fact one of my criticisms of ID is that I don't think ID plays all its best cards, such as all the old data re the natural sciences that lies buried and ignored and weighing down university library shelves that needs to be seen in a new light freed from its Darwinian chains. But this is a whole other very big complex issue that deserves a whole other thread on its own...I digress. zephyr
Jerry Fuller does believe in ID. I have had long conversations with him via email and I have read his book. Fuller is far more committed to ID than Berlinski. Berlinski accepts it as an idea while Fuller sees it as the supirior explanation of origins. Fuller may not believe in the God of the Bible as the designer but as you seem to put it above ID does not need a literal biblical backdrop to legitimize it. Frost122585
"I guess you’re suggesting that people should not say what they really think in these public debates but only what is likely to work with a given audience?" Not my words or what I think. I just believe ID has a better chance of being heard if it has someone who actually believes in it and can defend it. Such a person might work with every kind of audience. To send out someone who does not believe in it such as Berlinski and Fuller to me is counter productive. Neither are arguing that ID is good science or a good analysis of the data. And what has religion have to do with it anyway. jerry
This is interesting. According to Steve Fuller so-called "obsessives" like Newton were the figures behind the Scientific Revolution of the 17th Century. http://whoeverfightsmonsters-nhuthnance.blogspot.com/2008/08/dissent-over-descent-steve-fuller.html PannenbergOmega
Lets not forget Berlinski himself is a declared agnostic- (I met him at the DI) though he does seem to be ok with (though not directly supporting or endorsing) intelligent design. In otehr words my guess is that Belrinski probably agrees with an epsitmeic interpretation of ID. That is, he think shte world's order and compreheniblity is better understood as the product of "intelligence" or "mind" in the general sense- then that mind is the product of the physical world. This is not to say that he believes that there is a design(er) that sits up in the clouds or in another transcendental dimension with our best interests in mind. Remember Kant thought that the design argument was essentially science worthy due to it's positive influence on discovery. Kant read Newton's masterpieces and Newton was of course a Biblical- theological obsessive, who though that he was discovering the designer's or God's "design-plan." Frost122585
Fuller is an epistemological sociologist- so he studies things from a sort of societal- social- psychological perspective. His view has more to do with the big picture than the mysterious forces- he is more macro then micro. When Fuller speaks of the usefulness of religion he is not taking about religion itself but “it and it’s effects” - Fuller thinks it is a positive force- and we al have heard the arguments against Atheism using historical contexts such as communist Russia- Cambodia and Vietnam. Fuller also considers himself as a man of the left- that is partial to socialist tendencies - to me religion is one of the forces that gives social welfare a moral backbone and why atheists are always socialists has always been perplexing and ridiculous to me- Also Jerry, Berlinski may not actually defend Theism or ID. He may defend their right to be heard. And they are credible ideas that deserve their day. They have not been exploited enough yet to be just thrown away like so many in power want. Berlinski will take the approach of stripping down the pathetic inadequacy of the human race’s current understanding of science and use this as an eye opener for all those who think that mysticism is a thing of the past. Berlinski will defend the religious and ID side to be heard and discussed and at the same time he will put humanist philosophy in its proper perspective - which is indeed a feeble one. On the other side the atheists will trash the Bible by focusing on the miracles and such- they will talk about the whale fossils and the lizard-bird fossils- and they will take the time to talk about George Bush and the right wing’s secret poltical agenda to force the world into Christianity for the sake of the oil companies. Neither side will win- the other side will come off as more scientifically accurate I believe- while the religious side will come off as more well rounded, good natured, and truth oriented. Ultimately Berlinski will win because he will speak the truth and stay within his domain which is simply that he thinks that ideas such as deign and theism ought to be allowed in public discussion. The other side will essentially demand an atheist mind control state where everyone agrees with what they say, which is stupid, nonfunctional, totally unnecessary and completely unrealistic. Frost122585
jerry, OK, I watched the clip and have read what Fuller has written here and elsewhere and I still don't see how your analysis hooks up to what he's doing. Is your criticism basically that he's combining the two 'ineffectual' strategies in his remarks? It seems to me, though, that he is saying what he thinks -- and that includes that religion is a positive force for science, even if other people you don't wish to associate with (e.g. young earth creationists) think that too. I guess you're suggesting that people should not say what they really think in these public debates but only what is likely to work with a given audience? salvatore
Like DaveScott, Berlinski is agnostic and at most a deist. It is interesting that he is taking the theistic position in this debate. Having read Berlinski's book myself, I am convinced he is quite capable of defending that position, but it is curious that he would be asked to argue the theistic point of view. toc
salvatore, See https://uncommondesc.wpengine.com/evolution/battle-of-ideas-debating-darwinism/ I don't recommend wasting your time watching it. Needless to say I think Steve Fuller was an embarrassment. This prompted me to take a stab at a minimum all debaters should acknowledge if they are going to debate ID and want to be effective. There are two ineffective ID debate groups, 1) those who do not believe in ID and are like Voltaire's "I don't agree with anything you say but will defend to death your right to say it" which immediately undermines ID by saying be nice to these idiots and just let them have their say and 2) the young earth creationists who only continue the identification of ID with religion and a flawed science. It will be interesting if the theme of creationism will come up in this debate by the anti ID people or else will they just repeat the tired mantra that ID is not science and that ID must work to get its research published while not acknowledging that they are doing their best to prevent anything relevant to ID to even get considered. jerry
Obviously, our first choice would be to find debaters who actually believe in intelligent design to represent us. One key question is this: How many of these debates take place and how many pro-ID luminaries do we have to fill the bill? Who does the inviting and do they search for the best ID representatives available? In one sense, I suppose Berlinski helps us in the same way that TE’s help the Darwinists. In effect, both play against the stereotype of the partisan by claiming objectivity based on irony. On the one hand, Collins can say, “What!—me a Darwinist ideologue?--- why, I’ll have you know that I am a Christian. On the other hand, Berlinski can say, “What!---me an Christian ideologue?---- why, I’ll have you know that I am an agnostic. At the same time, this approach is little more that an appeal for a fair hearing; it has no real substance. Granted, posing as one who is above the fray can carry some weight, but it shouldn’t be the whole show in any given debate. Someone, namely the debate partner, must also be present to tell the ID story in a compelling way. Just as TEs always team up with a Darwinst, Berlinski should always team up with a strong ID representative. One cannot effectively attack error without also standing up for the truth and vice versa. In keeping with that same principle, truth does not sell itself; it needs strong evidence and powerful rhetoric. Attacking your opponents’ arguments is only half the battle; the other half is making your own. StephenB
We tend to fall into two types—those impressed with what we do know and those few folks more impressed with the much larger domain of what we do not know. Yes, I know, the seeker is of the first type—he has to believe that we do know and that we can and should know even more than we do. But we need the devil’s advocates too—to keep us honest and to keep us humble by reminding us of how vast our ignorance really is. Most of the great physicists—somewhere in their writings at least—will say that beauty is the best guide to the truth, and as Sheldon Glashow writes in The Charm of Physics (Touchstone Books, 1991), no one ever discovered any profound truth unless he somehow knew deep in his bones that things are good. Most physicists, at least today, do not share this conviction and thus devote their lives to the ramifications of the theories of the greats. This suggests that—though evil exists and bad stuff happens—overall things are beautiful and that in the end good prevails. We need David Berlinski. He is the true skeptic---not like the pseudo-skeptics who loudly advertise their skepticism yet are really true believers and ardent advocates for the materialist cause. Rude
Is David Berlinski on our side? We will have to wait and see. He is an occasional gadfly to the intellectual elites rather than a proponent of ID. Some of us look at a debunking of the current conventional wisdom as proof of ID but it is not necessarily so. I found his book unnecessarily convoluted and more like it was written to the literary class as opposed to the common person. In other words look how clever I can write without having to convince anyone of anything. I think Behe's rhetorical approach is much better and easier to understand and his admission is stronger for our case which is namely we do not know what caused OOL or macro evolution. He admits it is a mystery and till shown otherwise ID is a potential inference for these two phenomenon and one that makes sense based on human experience. We assume here that Darwinian processes are bogus but they are not, they are only bogus or seemed to be ruled out in certain areas of life based on current evidence. We also have no positive inference to ID for OOL or macro evolution, only negative inferences to Darwinian processes or to other naturalistic mechanisms as the cause for these phenomena. If some naturalistic phenomenon was shown to produce FCSI, this site would shut down immediately as ID would lose its best argument. Until then we believe we have the better hand. Behe uses the findings of complexity in his arguments and the inability of natural processes to lead to this organized complexity. Berlinski tend to use obtuse philosophical arguments against a sole naturalistic explanation as proven. There is a difference. We will see what he does in the debate and what he will say to those who strongly object to ID. In his book presentation he was more in sync with Jason Rosenhouse that he was with ID which is what lead me to my conclusions about him. jerry
jerry, which Steve Fuller fiasco are you talking about? He debated Denis Alexander at a book festival here in Britain a couple of weeks ago and was fine. In any case, he's not hidden his own distinctive take on ID -- and Casey Luskin even reassured him in a recent CSC podcast that the Discovery Institute doesn't hold a copyright on 'ID'! salvatore
Barry A, it would be a stretch for me to state David Berlinski’s value to ID any more clearly than you have. But at the same time, I understand Jerry’s comment. I am familiar with the book tour presentations that Mr. Berlinski made, and how some in the ID movement would have wanted more. I know for a fact that there was a great deal of consternation and acrimony with regard to the publication and distribution of The Devil’s Delusion, and just being human, I can easily imagine that this was weighing on Mr. Berlinski’s mind every time he stepped up to the microphone. The handing of that book is truly a story unto its own. In any case, David Berlinski lays the intellectual groundwork for ID to prosper. To that end, he is a significant benefit to the design argument, and I for one, am extremely happy that his voice in on our side. Upright BiPed
In re my [5], I do not mean in any way to downplay the importance of Berlinski's role. It really is an either-or proposition. Either life was designed or it was not. To the extent that the "it was not designed" position is proven to be untenable -- Berlinski's forte -- ID's hand improves vastly. BarryA
I just this moment finished reading Berlinski's "The Devil's Delusion." It is an interesting book and I can understand jerry's comments. Nevertheless, I think jerry misunderstands Berlinski's value to ID. It does NOT lie in defending ID. It lies in laying bare the pretensions, inanities and sometimes outright incoherence of those who argue against ID -- by a person who cannot reasonably be charged with religious bias. BarryA
"What is it that makes you consider that David Berlinski might be ineffective?" Because he doesn't believe in ID and in a presentation for his book earlier in the year, he was a mess discussing ID. jerry
By the way Jerry, What is it that makes you consider that David Berlinski might be ineffective? Upright BiPed
...methinks Berlinski will do just fine. I plan to be in the audience. Upright BiPed
Are we going to have another Steve Fuller fiasco. Berliniski who does not believe in Intelligent Design, is defending it just as Fuller who does not believe in it, made a mess when he tried to defend it a few weeks ago. It will be interesting to see just what they say and to see if either really understands ID. jerry

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