Wednesday, October 31, 2007
Nibbling at the Kool-Aid
The Discovery Institute's attack mouse, Casey Luskin, is at it again, threatening to loose multiple sleep-producing screeds upon the internet, the major result of which will be to acutely embarrass whatever thinking proponents ID may have left. This one is entitled "Principled (not Rhetorical) Reasons Why ID Doesn't Identify the Designer," which is followed closely by the dread-inducing "(Part 1)."
As a "hook," Casey recycles a complaint made by Mike Gene of Telic Thoughts about Dr. James F. McGrath, Assistant Professor of Religion at Butler University, whose blog, Exploring Our Matrix, you'll find over in my blogroll (for good reason). I'll let the good doctor handle that part of Casey's bleating (as he answered Mike Gene). I'm more interested in a couple of other "points" Casey swipes at.
Amusingly, for a supposed defense of allegedly "principled" actions by ID proponents, Casey complains that Judge Jones, in his decision in the Kitzmiller case, "misused" a passage from the ID "textbook," Of Pandas and People. Reminding people of that case (and what went on there), while claiming ID advocates are honest, might not be the best strategy. In any event, Judge Jones (at p. 25-26) says this:
Although proponents of the IDM [Intelligent Design Movement] occasionally suggest that the designer could be a space alien or a time-traveling cell biologist, no serious alternative to God as the designer has been proposed by members of the IDM, including Defendants' expert witnesses. In fact, an explicit concession that the intelligent designer works outside the laws of nature and science and a direct reference to religion is Pandas' rhetorical statement, "what kind of intelligent agent was it [the designer]" and answer: "On its own science cannot answer this question. It must leave it to religion and philosophy."
If science is based upon experience, then science tells us the message encoded in DNA must have originated from an intelligent cause. What kind of intelligent agent was it? On its own, science cannot answer this question; it must leave it to religion and philosophy. But that should not prevent science from acknowledging evidences for an intelligent cause origin wherever they may exist. This is no different, really, than if we discovered life did result from natural causes. We still would not know, from science, if the natural cause was all that was involved, or if the ultimate explanation was beyond nature, and using the natural cause. [Emphasis in original]
... the staunchly anti-ID website, TalkOrigins, admits that "an anthropomorphized designer need not be a deity. The atheistic religion of Raelianism, for example, proposes that humans were created by extraterrestrials."
The real question is whether Casey is actually so stupid (or whether he just hopes his audience is) that he misses the giant black hole of a logical contradiction sitting at the center of his argument? Sure, it is conceivable, as Judge Jones acknowledged, that a natural being "created" and "designed" life on Earth, though John Wilkins' assessment becomes relevant here:
ID requires a designer who can visualise all possible combinations of chemistry over billions of years. If that isn't a supernatural designer, I'll eat my epistemological hat!
And there is no help for Casey's case in that weaseling at the end of the section from Pandas:
We still would not know, from science, if the natural cause was all that was involved, or if the ultimate explanation was beyond nature, and using the natural cause.
So, basically, the take-home lesson of Casey's own presentation is that either ID proponents are not thinking clearly or they are lying through their teeth ... they're either dumb or dishonest.
Nice defense there, Luskin!
Update: Professor McGrath has responded to Luskin as well.
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