Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Darwinian Thought Police Strike Again: Stellar Scholar Denied Tenure

The Center for Science & Culture

Following the evidence where it leads


Intelligent Design Scientist Denied Tenure at Iowa State University

Iowa State University has denied tenure to astronomer Guillermo Gonzalez, co-author of The Privileged Planet, which presents powerful scientific evidence for the intelligent design of the universe. You can read about the situation in the Ames Tribune here.

This is a very sad day for academic freedom. Dr. Gonzalez is a superb scholar and his research has been featured in Scientific American, Science, Nature, and many other science journals. In fact, his published work exceeds ISU's required publishing standards in order to receive tenure by 350%. Dr. Gonzales has an impressive list of achievements including:

  • authoring 68 peer-reviewed scientific articles;
  • authoring a college-level astronomy textbook published by Cambridge University Press;
  • spearheading research that led to the discovery of 2 new planets;
  • building new technology to discover extrasolar planets; and
  • asked to serve as a referee for a number of leading scientific publications.
Iowa State's decision to deny him tenure is a travesty, and the university should be held to account for its action.


How You Can Help

This is where you come in. There is something you can do to help Guillermo Gonzalez in his fight for academic freedom. The decision to deny his tenure is currently under appeal before the president of Iowa State University. You can call President Gregory L. Geoffroy at (515) 294-2042 or email him at president@iastate.edu and let him know that you support Guillermo Gonzalez and his right to follow the evidence wherever it leads.

Ironically, Dr. Gonzalez arrived in America as a child refugee from Castro's Cuba. Unfortunately, he seems to have discovered that the Darwinist ideologues in America's universities can be nearly as unforgiving as the Marxist ideologues of his home country.

Read more here.

Stay tuned to Evolution News & Views as this story develops.
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About Nota Bene
Nota Bene -- Latin for "mark well"-- is the periodic e-lert newsletter for the Center for Science & Culture. The goal of Nota Bene is to quickly disseminate information regarding important events, activities and milestones related to the scientific theory of intelligent design and about efforts to fully and completely teach Darwinian evolution theory, including both its strengths and weaknesses. Please forward this e-mail to friends and family you think would be interested in this important issue.

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Copyright 2007 --- Discovery Institute www.discovery.org --- Seattle, WA

32 comments:

Sir Fab said...

I will let other, better prepared individuals speak for me, since I am neither a scientist nor a philospher.

Link 1) tackles the subject of why cries that Mr. Gonzalez was denied tenure on the basis of his belief in ID are suspect, and link 2) explains why (and I agree) belief in Intelligent Design is inconsistent with science, and intellectually suspect. That is my honest an informed opinion on the subject, and perhaps a viewpoint worth considering by those who adhere to the ID belief.

And here are the links:
1) Tenure and ID Persecution

2) ID Is Not Science: Why This Matters

Jeremy said...

Sir Fab

I checked out the second link, and I was far from impressed.

It isn't exactly clear how the author of that piece expects Christians to reconcile their faith with "science" (you'll have to forgive the quotes, but at this point it seems that it's the definition of science that's up for grabs; putting it in quotes avoids begging the question). He claims that science should stay out of the supernatural; does that mean that God should stay out of the natural as well? If there is such a gulf, no reconciliation can happen. Since he thinks that there is some type reconciliation, then surely he can't mean this.

What could he mean?

Well, it seems that a Christian could accept evolutionary theory and just say it's how God gets things done. This seems to be the popular line. It's untenable though. There is no place for the providential guiding of the development of life in a system that is guided solely by chance. Second, there is no sense to humanity's being created in the image of God. Humans are not the final outcome of the evolutionary process, but rather we are mere stepping stones to the next species higher on the phylogenic tree. Lastly, there is no place for sin as the Bible construes sin (not as some little feaux pas, but an evil infecting the entire universe) since semi-plausible explanations for things like lying, infanticide, etc. can be given in terms of natural selections. So, and here's the lastly bit, if there's no sin, then there's no need for real redemption; if there's no need for real redemption, then the person and work of Christ are to no effect; if the person and work of Christ are to no effect, then Christianity is not true. Therefore, if sin is ruled out, then Christianity is not true. Sin is in fact ruled out on a Darwinian scheme. Therefore, Christianity is not true. How in the world is a Christian of the evidentialist bent, one who wants reasons to believe, possibly reconcile evolutionary theory with Christianity?

The second option is to grant all of that stuff in the last paragraph, but say Christianity is metaphorical or paradoxical. Who needs reasons? This is just a pragmatic cop-out that is not faithful to historic Christianity.

Sir Fab said...

Thanks for your comments, Jeremy.
There are a couple of passages that I would take issue with.

First, you say:
"Lastly, there is no place for sin as the Bible construes sin (not as some little feaux pas, but an evil infecting the entire universe) since semi-plausible explanations for things like lying, infanticide, etc. can be given in terms of natural selections."
I would respond that semi- (or entirely) horrible things have been done in the name of religion, but that does not disqualify the power or value or religion in your mind, does it?

You also say:
"[The author of "ID IS Not Science"] claims that science should stay out of the supernatural; does that mean that God should stay out of the natural as well?"
No, that's not what the author says. He says "If we call ID science, we will have to redefine science to include supernatural causes and effects." In other words, he says that we need to keep the supernatural out of science, which seems obvious to me because science concerns itself with the study of natural phenomena (as opposed to supernatural, like Christ's resurrection, or belief in the Holy Spirit, for example.) And he goes on to explain why:
The usefulness of science stems from the predictable action of the laws of nature and the strict rules regarding testable hypotheses. If you modify the definition of science to include unpredictable supernatural forces, magic and miracles, the utility of science will be lost because we won't be able to form reasonable predictions from what we observe in the natural world. No reverent believer would presume to know what goes on in the mind of God, so how can the actions of God be predicted? For science to progress and maintain its usefulness, it needs to be limited to the laws of nature."

As for your references to sin, I will not comment since that--once again--belongs to the realm of faith and the supernatural (Sin itself is a religious concept.)

Finally, it is reductive to say that evolution is guided solely by chance. Mutations are largely driven by chance, but the other component of evolution, natural selection, is far from chance. That is an indispensable clarification for those who doubt the validity of evolution as scientific theory.

Jon said...

Regarding the first link:

Although Brayton is clearly biased against religion (refer to his first paragraph), he does make a good point: There are many reasons a person might be denied tenure. I didn't see any evidence that Gonzalez was denied because he was an IDer. Even if he was, then perhaps he is all the more blessed by being persecuted. Just a thought.

Regarding the second link:

Jeremy, I also was not impressed with this article. Mr. Wise (interesting name) begs the question at least twice. First, he says that "science simply cannot and should not enter the supernatural realm" without explaining why this is the case. He states it as a brute fact. Second, and this is my all-time favorite, he says that ID = creationism. You can see my response to that here and comment on it if you would like.

Sir Fab said...

Jon: Michael Behe was put to ridicule on the subject of irreducible complexity during the Kitzmiller v. Dover trial. For an excellent and highly readable summary of his performance on the stand, you should try reading relevant portions of "Monkey Girl."

And by the way, during the trial ample evidence was supplied that ID IS in fact creationsm (or so closely related to it to defy distinction.) The chronology of the transition from Creationism to ID in anti-evolutionist rhetoric is so stunningly and clearly linked to the decision in Edwards v. Aguillard that it seems the height of disingenuosness to deny that ID has been spawned by the demise of Creationism.

As many before me have said before the forum, if ID-ers diverted the money they invest in PR to scientific research aimed at proving their argument... oh no, wait: that would be the end of ID, wouldn't it?

Jim Pemberton said...

The distinction between "natural" and "supernatural" is a false dichotomy if the existence of the physical cosmos is due to a metaphysical Creator. Where once today's technological wonders would have been considered "supernatural", the means by which we understand that what is "supernatural" is actually quite "natural" is by investigating the likelihood of such things as which are currently considered "supernatural". Many of the endeavors that are grouped under the heading of "Intelligent Design" fall within that category.

John Stockwell said...

Well, if Gonzalez can show that he was denied tenure because of his religious beliefs, then he has grounds for a lawsuit. The catch is that he would have to admit in open court that ID is religion, and not science. (Which is to say, he would have to tell the truth.)

For the readers of this blog who are unaware of tenure review for highly competitive tenure track positions, here are a few pieces of information that you need to consider.

First, tenured positions in astrophysics are extremely hard to come by. There is no automatic tenure for a person who applies.

Second, if you look at what little information about Gonzalez's history at the U of I is available, apparently he has been there 11 years as a research professor. So, he did not come in on the tenure track.

There are several ways of getting tenure.

The way that is most common is to apply for a tenure track position at an institution, and if you are accepted, you have 6 years to secure tenure by your performance.

The second way, is if a tenure track position comes up, then you can apply for that position, and if you have sufficient stature in the scientific community, then you might be able to get tenure on the spot. You have to be really good for this.

The third way is if an institution wants a person with very high stature in the community, then tenure comes as part of the package. Likely, though, you were on the 6 year track, were given tenure in 3 or 4 years, and have created a successful research program, written a lot of papers that changed the direction of the discipline, and all of that.

Tenure isn't necessary for everybody. That is why there is such a position as a "research" professor.

If an individual brings in money, through grants and research contracts, he or she may remain as a research professor indefinitely at most institutions, without possibility of
tenure, and have perfectly happy carreers.

It seems to me that Dr. Gonzalez is in that position. If so, then likely he will likely not be out of a job. He will just continue in the position he has been in all along. Or, he can trade up. An individual's funding usually goes with them, so he could go to another institution.

The fact that he was still at U of I after 11 years---as an associate research professor---says something about his desire/qualifications for a tenure track position.

Usually, a person who gets a tenure track position has 6 years to demostrate that they are deserving of tenure via publications, teaching, research, and grad students. People who are really good often get snatched up in the first half of that time period. But apparently
Dr. Gonzales was not already in a tenure track position, becuase his title is still "assistant research professor" and not merely "assistant professor".

If Dr. Gonzalez is not bringing in any funds, then he will be out, as is the case with any researcher.

All the claim of "great scholar" is a bunch of bushwha. If Gonzalez really were *that* good, then he would be somewhere with tenure, and in 4 years, not 11.

Certainly the political machine of the ID movement is milking this incident for all they can get.

The real question is: Did Gonzalez apply for this position knowing full well that he had little chance of getting it, for the sole purpose of generating sympathy propaganda?

John Stockwell said...

...that sould have been ISU (Iowa State University) instead of (U of I) in my last message. Senior moment.

Ed Darrell said...

What evidence does Gonzalez present of design? I can't find it.

He sees patterns, and he calls them evidence -- but we've been down that garden path too many times before. There is no way Gonzalez can claim the patterns he sees are not wholly natural, without any intelligent intervention.

Seeing the patterns is not the same thing as determining how the patterns are made.

John Stockwell said...

Ed wrote:
What evidence does Gonzalez present of design? I can't find it.


Gonzalez is demolishing a strawman "model" of the standard view of planets and the origin of life. The problem is, we haven't examined that many planets, and don't know enough about the origin of life, the types of life that can exist, and the restrictions on life and its origins.

I suspect that he is a burnout, whose next career will be in religion/philosophy. His performance in the past 5 years, as evidenced by his publications indicate a researcher shifting away from astrophysics.

Ed Darrell said...

John, Gonzalez doesn't claim to be "demolishing" any model of how life started, and I'm not sure where you get that. Most of Gonzalez's defenders point in fact to his work with NASA, not "demolishing" any model, but working with various astrobiology building on the current model.

If nothing else, I think you've demonstrated the utter confusion that reigns in throughout the ranks of ID advocates. No one can really say what ID is, or how it might differ from either creationism or science, when push comes to shove.

Jeremy said: There is no place for the providential guiding of the development of life in a system that is guided solely by chance.

Evolution isn't guided by chance at all. Darwin referred to evolution as "by natural and sexual selection." Selection is the opposite of chance. There is plenty of room for divine intervention, not to mention the possibility of a divine design of such robust system of life. Creationist/ID belittling of the amazing complexity of life probably does more to mislead people about science and religion than anything else.

Second, there is no sense to humanity's being created in the image of God.

Poppycock. You seem to think that humans are created in the physical image of God, but that's not anything that could be demonstrated from scripture or Christian tradition. Spiritually, we're created in the image of God. That's possible regardless the physical bodies we inhabit.

Humans are not the final outcome of the evolutionary process, but rather we are mere stepping stones to the next species higher on the phylogenic tree.

And you've never read the New Testament with its descriptions of what awaits us in immortality? Why are you hung up on human form, and where is there room for spirituality in such a small reading of human spiritual nature?

Lastly, there is no place for sin as the Bible construes sin (not as some little faux pas, but an evil infecting the entire universe) since semi-plausible explanations for things like lying, infanticide, etc. can be given in terms of natural selections.

So, you claim there is some magic in evolution that washes sin away? That's an interesting claim, quite counter to anything any scientist claims. Where in the world did you get such a bizarre idea?

So, and here's the lastly bit, if there's no sin, then there's no need for real redemption; if there's no need for real redemption, then the person and work of Christ are to no effect; if the person and work of Christ are to no effect, then Christianity is not true. Therefore, if sin is ruled out, then Christianity is not true. Sin is in fact ruled out on a Darwinian scheme. Therefore, Christianity is not true.

Again, I would refer to your previous, erroneous premise. There is nothing in science that claims sin does not exist. Nor does anyone try to justify sinful behavior on the basis that it's natural, at least, no serious scientists.

So, since your major premises about evolution and what it says are unfounded, what's the problem?

John Stockwell said...

Ed wrote:
John, Gonzalez doesn't claim to be "demolishing" any model of how life started, and I'm not sure where you get that. Most of Gonzalez's defenders point in fact to his work with NASA, not "demolishing" any model, but working with various astrobiology building on the current model.


The strawman is to claim that the current model is complete, show that life, or what have you is incredibly unlikely, and then infer a supernatural explanation. It's like a gambler winning a jackpot, and then believing that there is something called "luck" that made that happen. The problem, of course, is that the only evidence for "luck" or the lack thereof, is the score of how well the gambler is doing at the gambling table. The gambler offers no independent testable model of "luck" .

As to Jeremy's comment:

It's untenable though. There is no place for the providential guiding of the development of life in a system that is guided solely by chance. Second, there is no sense to humanity's being created in the image of God.


...just as the notion that there is no such thing as luck (beyond random chance operating in our favor) is untenable to the gambler... The term 'providential guiding" is as scientifically meaningless as "luck". There may or not be "providential guiding" but there is no science which discriminates "providential guiding" from the operation by normal chemical and physical processes. Where the ID movement claims that there is such evidence just happen to be the places where we have little knowledge. (Indeed, "complex specified information" means exactly the same thing as "winning streak" in the gambler's vocabulary.)

Jeremy writes further:
Second, there is no sense to humanity's being created in the image of God. Humans are not the final outcome of the evolutionary process, but rather we are mere stepping stones to the next species higher on the phylogenic tree.

We have no scientific definition of what the term "image of God" means. Does Jeremy believe that God is a flesh and blood humanoid, like himself? Or does "image of God" mean something different?

Furthermore Jeremy is stating "strawman evolution" . There is no higher or lower in phylogenic trees. But yes, humans appear to be subject to the same rules of natural selection, and even extinction, just like any other species.

Jeremy continues:

Lastly, there is no place for sin as the Bible construes sin (not as some little feaux pas, but an evil infecting the entire universe) since semi-plausible explanations for things like lying, infanticide, etc. can be given in terms of natural selections. So, and here's the lastly bit, if there's no sin, then there's no need for real redemption; if there's no need for real redemption, then the person and work of Christ are to no effect; if the person and work of Christ are to no effect, then Christianity is not true. Therefore, if sin is ruled out, then Christianity is not true. Sin is in fact ruled out on a Darwinian scheme. Therefore, Christianity is not true.


There is nothing in science that says yeah or nay regarding the religious concepts of sin, the resurrection of Jesus, or any other purely religious concept. Certainly the mechanics of all sorts of behaviors (including religious behavior) are being understood in terms of scientific or mathematical concepts. So what?

Basically, you have two choices, you can either live in denial of the success of science by creating phony science, and nonsensical philosophical anti-science arguments, or you can embrace science, and accept with humility that the world is far bigger than your particular worldview allows it to be.

To be a scientist, it goes with the territory to be prepared to have your world shaken up and enlargened periodically.

Fletcher said...

ID Opponents:

Please satisfy my curiosity of your epistemology by responding to this comment:

I'm sure you'd agree that the existence of a Intelligent Designer is possible (I personally think it's highly likely).

So if it is possible, how do you propose we human beings come to discover whether or not it is true? What criteria would be an adequate starting ground for such an investigation? What elements in the natural physical world would lend themselves to a justified belief that there is most likely an Intelligent Designer, be that supernatural or not?

Thanks!

Francis J. Beckwith said...

Dear Misters Darrell and Stockwell:

Having been at the same end of the witch hunt that Mr. Gonzales now finds himself, and having triumphed against pretty steep odds, let me suggest you tread lightly with your vitriol. I do not know the particulars of Mr. Gonzales' case, but I do know from my own experience, that there is usually a cluster of facts that the general public--including you and me--does not know. Because I won my case, I have chosen to not release this information, since I have no desire to embarrass my institution and the number of good souls that came to my defense both conspicuously and clandestinely. I am sure that right now as we speak that there are many at Iowa State hoping that Mr. Gonzales wins his appeal. For I suspect that such a victory, given Mr. Gonzales' impeccable character, will spare his opponents the punitive publicity they so richly deserve.

Francis J. Beckwith said...

Mr. Stockwell:

Apparently, the inept providential guiding of arguments to produce "strawmen" is detectable by comparing the correct concept with the flawed one. Unfortunately for you we cannot attribute this epistemological fax paus to "luck." It is merely another case of a materialist exempting his own mind and reasoning to the very irrational forces of nature he applies to everything else, except himself, his opponent, and materialism itself.

Sir Fab said...

Mr. Beckwith:

Your characterization of what Mr. Gonzalez is going through as a witch hunt is arbitrary at very least, and dishonest at worst. You don't know, do you, the reasons why Mr. Gonzalez was denied tenure? If anyone is guilty of vitriol, it may be you, and not Messrs. Stockwell and Darrell.

Perhaps IDers might rid themselves of this feeling of persecution if they dedicated themselves to collecting enough positive scientific evidence in support of their highly conjectural (dare I say fantatstical?) theory, instead of resorting to the usual god of the gaps arguments which abound in their arsenal, until they are dismantled by contrary evidence, one at a time.

Francis J. Beckwith said...

Sir Fab:

Read my comments. I did not say that Mr. Gonzales' denial of tenure was the witch hunt. As I freely conceded in the post, I do not know the paticulars of his case. In fact, your relaying of my comments is a nice example of what I mean. You did not read with care or charity; you read with a predisposition to find what you already "knew" was there.

All I am suggesting--having had my own views misrepresented by atheocratic inquisititors seeing "fundamentalists" and "creationists" where there are none--is that you approach those with whom you disagree with at least as much charity as you suggest they treat you. The golden rule is not, I admit, emprically detectable. But it is no less true.

Frank

Sir Fab said...

Mr. Beckwith:

You started your first post with the sentence: "Having been at the same end of the witch hunt that Mr. Gonzales now finds himself..."
Forgive me for taking it as an indication that the denial of tenure might have been the subject of the witch hunt. I must have been misled by the fact that that the owner of the blog chose to entitle his original post (based entirely on Discovery Institute propaganda) "DARWINIAN THOUGH POLICE STRIKE AGAIN: STELLAR SCHOLAR DENIED TENURE."

(Incidentally, nice ending to Mr. West's post on Evolution News and Views: "Ironically, Dr. Gonzalez arrived in America as a child refugee from Castro's Cuba. Unfortunately, he seems to have discovered that the Darwinist ideologues in America's universities can be nearly as unforgiving as the Marxist ideologues of his home country." Being a fellow of the Center for Science and Culture--the publisher of Evolution News and Views--it seems to me you might want to extend your reminders about the Golden Rule to Mr. West, the Center's Associate Director.)

Regards.

John Stockwell said...

To: Mr. Beckwith:

I don't believe that there is any evidence that Dr. Gonzalez is the victim of a witch hunt. Any vitriol in this discussion is coming from the Discovery Institute, which is claiming that hypothetical "Darwinian thought police" are responsible for Mr. Gonzalez being denied tenure, rather than his own performance. (We are talking about a research oriented technical position, rather than a merely scholarship oriented field, so I would seriously doubt that your experiences are analogous to his.)

John Stockwell said...

Fletcher wrote:
ID Opponents:

Please satisfy my curiosity of your epistemology by responding to this comment:

I'm sure you'd agree that the existence of a Intelligent Designer is possible (I personally think it's highly likely).

So if it is possible, how do you propose we human beings come to discover whether or not it is true? What criteria would be an adequate starting ground for such an investigation? What elements in the natural physical world would lend themselves to a justified belief that there is most likely an Intelligent Designer, be that supernatural or not?

Thanks!


First of all, we don't detect design. We model manufacture. There are a collection of known manufacturers in the animal kingdom, including humans and a few other species. We recognize the objects manufactured by these organisms by direct observation of these organisms actually manufacturing the objects, or by modeling the method of manufacture by conducting experiments.

Even in the case of SETI (the search of extraterrestrial intelligence) the method that is used for discriminating signals is to use human manufactured signals as an analogy for the signals generated by hypothetical aliens. That program has yielded little to date.

If you want to look for a supernatural designer, then you are likely out of luck scientifically, owing to the fact that there is no scientific definition of "supernatural".

Fletcher said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Fletcher said...

Mr. Stockwell (and others who did not respond, but are obviously interested in this subject so please respond):

Your response is a red herring. I ask again, do you believe it is possible that there is a purposeful intelligence behind the existence of the very universe itself, and then as a subcategory intelligent life?

If it is possible (which of course it is, unless you would be so bold as to dictate all possible states of affairs), then would you suggest how we should go about seeking out the answer, looking into it, positing a position based on certain observations, etc.? What criteria would you suggest? What would our epistemology look like in this scenario? How can we have a position with confidence and supporting arguments one way or the other, in your view?

Please try again.

Thanks

Douglas Groothuis said...

Fletcher:

Good job. You are forcing them to consider an inference they refuse to even consider.

Fletcher said...

This is quite interesting. The silence is deafening. Perhaps this is a good question for future ID debates, before they even get started!

I am not trying to be a smart-aleck, but rather I want to know what sort of rules the opponents of ID will allow us (and them) to play by in this discussion.

What are they? How can we look into this without a priori dismissals? What is fair game? What observations will they consider?

Ed Darrell said...

What evidence is there that the astronomers are "Darwinists?" Why should anyone think that Darwinian theory would sway astronomers in the first place?

It doesn't ring true.

John Stockwell said...

Fletcher wrote:
Your response is a red herring.

No. A red herring is a deliberate attempt to deceive or mislead. My answer was an honest attempt to educate you on the matter. I suggest that you try to understand what I wrote, indeed all of the things I have written on this blog, instead of blowing them off.


I ask again, do you believe it is possible that there is a purposeful intelligence behind the existence of the very universe itself,


Given all possible definitions of "intelligent" and all possible definitions of "purposeful", then, of course, it is conceivable that there is an purposeful intelligence (PI) behind the existence of the universe. Whether it is possible. or not, we have no way of knowing at this time. (Not all things conceivable are possible.)


and then as a subcategory intelligent life?

Not necessarily. There is nothing that says that a PI needs to be alive under the parameters of your question. So, the PI might be a member of some supercategory of "intelligence" but it might not be a member of the subcategory of "intelligent life". Thus, it may not be possible to inductively infer characteristics of the PI from known intelligences if the PI operates differently from known intelligences. Furthermore, it may be that the regularity that we call "natural law" *is* that intelligence.

Just as human intelligence appears to be an emergent phenomenon arising from the interactions of simple parts, the PI may be the emergent intelligence of the interactions of the parts of the universe. Or it might be something outside the universe. Or something totally different. One could go on and on with such speculations.



If it is possible (which of course it is, unless you would be so bold as to dictate all possible states of affairs), then would you suggest how we should go about seeking out the answer,
looking into it, positing a position based on certain observations, etc.?


It is not possible to conduct a scientific search for an unspecified object. There are no rules to tell us what to look for, what the PI can and cannot do, etc. then there is no way to devise an experiment or an experimental schema to detect such an object. In short, you need a theory of the PI
describing it as an object with specific attributes in order to detect it.

If the PI is not an object, then pretty much you are stopped. Science operates on an ontlogy of the objectifiability of phenomena.




What criteria would you suggest?


It is impossible to suggest critera, because there is
1) no clear set of observations that define the attributes of the PI, let alone allow us to demarcate its existence as an object separate from the observed universe.
2) there is no theory of the PI that would allow us to interpret the evidence to allow such a demarcation by defining the mechanisms by which the PI operates or interacts with the rest of the universe.

So, your only hope is to create a theory
describing the methods by which the PI manufactures stuff like life, the universe, and everything and then show that those methods are operative.



What would our epistemology look like in this scenario? How can we have a position with confidence and supporting arguments one way or the other, in your view?


The same as that in any other scientific investigation. (Scientific epistemology is a long topic.)

Fletcher said...

Stockwell:

This verifies my suspicion that many of those who adhere to scientism as their worldview hold that one can only attain knowledge within the confounds of the scientific method, and that's it. I have made other posts expressing my respect and reverance for what science has done for the world however as a comprehensive worldview it fails because it cannot explain all of the data. There are truths outside of science, outside of man-made experiments and limitations, and that is what you are not seeing.

Intelligent Design is testable as a comprehensive data structure, but because it does not fit the mold of traditional beaker and test tube lab experiments it is rejected by yourself and many others.

As long as you maintain this position, there will necessarily be many things that you cannot claim you know - ANYTHING that cannot be tested within the limitations of the scientific method must be rejected.

What a meager existence that would be, in my view.

John Stockwell said...

Fletcher wrote:
This verifies my suspicion that many of those who adhere to scientism as their worldview hold that one can only attain knowledge within the confounds of the scientific method, and that's it.


You are merely making empty assertions. First of all, I have simply stated what I know about science as my colleagues and I practice it, regardless of the particular field of study and of their particular religious persuasion. Science is science whether you are a Christian,
Jew, Muslim, Buddhist, or even a dreaded secular humanist. These facts are verifiable if you want to read up on the philosphy of science. Mario Bunge's books are good as a starter, though you really cannot understand science if you read only the work of philosophers.

We are not talking about worldviews here. We are are talking about science and how science practiced the world over. Whenever people have acquired knowledge about the physical world, it has been the same way. That way is called in the shorthand of scientific lingo "the scientific method".



I have made other posts expressing my respect and reverance for what science has done for the world however as a comprehensive worldview it fails because it cannot explain all of the data. There are truths outside of science, outside of man-made experiments and limitations, and that is what you are not seeing.



You are simply demolishing strawmen here. Science is not sold as a worldview. However, it has certainly influenced the common worldview, taking us away from believing in curses, spells, and gratuitous supernatural influences, and taken us to look for more prosaic causes.


Fletcher continues
Intelligent Design is testable as a comprehensive data structure, but because it does not fit the mold of traditional beaker and test tube lab experiments it is rejected by yourself and many others.


If IDers and other fringe practicioners seek to create their own discipline, nothing is stopping them from doing that. If they are,
in fact, doing valid science, then they will start
delivering goods that will attract the mainstream in their direction. They, too,
will have to yield to the scientific community
at large, because, frankly nobody is so good as to be able to be 100% knowledgeable or
100% right.

As to specifics, as it stands now, we have
on one hand, the theoretical base of the current ID movement is a collection of assertions about information theory which has not passed muster as valid information theory.

On the other hand the observational evidence that is supposed to support the notion of ID consists entirely of phenomena that have not been extensively studied, or which are spindoctored as being "unexplainable".

Take, for example, the ID movements' flagship, the bacterial flagellum. If we read ID works, this little machine is unique and unrelated to any other structure. Yet, when we read scientific literature, we find out two things. First of all, there are a lot of variations on the flagella, and second there are genetically related structures. Third, we find that this is really tough sledding to try to understand the chemistry and genetics of the object in question. The flagship hit the iceberg and has been taking on water for some time now.

The point?
Science is an investigative program, not a worldview philosophy. There is little that can be called "investigative" about the ID movement. Any scientific program has false starts and retrenchments "we started believing this, but now new evidence says we believe that". We don't see any of this sort of thing in the ID movement. Rather, we see a rigid party line and a preponderance of political publications.

It's not IDers who are doing the genetic studies.

Fletcher wrote:
As long as you maintain this position, there will necessarily be many things that you cannot claim you know - ANYTHING that cannot be tested within the limitations of the scientific method must be rejected.

What a meager existence that would be, in my view.


But there are "a great many things that we cannot claim we know". Admitting this is a fundamental aspect of being a scientist. As to science being "limited" there is no evidence that the scientific method has hit its limits. Of course, what you mean is that standard science isn't giving you the answer you want. We all have that happen at least once in our lives. Science is a hard business. You can't simply look up all the answers in some book. You have to get your hands dirty and occasionally your nose bloodied.

Choosing ignorance seems to me to be something that cannot help but lead to a "meager existence'. I prefer to choose an investigative program that tells me something new about the world.

Sir Fab said...

Mr. Stockwell:

Thank you for taking the time to educate the science skeptics that inhabit this blog. One can only hope that your clear, informed, and logical posts will serve to steer some, at least, away from the unscientific mindset of Intelligent Design.

Fletcher said...

Stockwell:

Science is not a worldview, correct... scientism, is however... and that is what I meant.

Some have defined knowledge as "justified true belief" - so the question is, how do you define "justified?" ID is the best explanation for much of what we observe in the universe, both at the micro (the flagellum, yes) and the macro (cosmic constants) level.

However, these pieces of knowledge cannot be known within scientism due to the limitations that science puts on itself. That is what I am trying to explain. Scientism (not science!) as a worldview necessarily fails as a comprehensive worldview because it cannot apprehend many truths.

Does this make more sense?

So, Fab... again I ask: what criteria are reasonable for us to determine whether or not it is justifiable to believe in an Intelligent Designer? Where do we go in the universe to make a good decision about this?

I think ID has the upper hand here, but you guys just don't see it because you presuppose materialism which necessarily blinds you to other possibilities.

Assume just for kicks that there is in fact an ID'er, or "God"... how would you know? What would it take to convince you?

Thanks guys for your time, I do appreciate the conversation.

Fletcher

Sir Fab said...

Fletcher:

I object to your Luntzian use of the word scientism. It has a pejorative connotation in much the same way as Democrat Party instead of Democratic Party. May I accuse you instead of blind religionism?

You say "ID is the best explanation for much of what we observe in the universe, both at the micro (the flagellum, yes)." I suppose if you are a supporter of ID, then yes, ID is the best explanation of the flagellum, regardless of the fact that a preponderance of biologists have proposed explanations of the evolution of the bacterial flagellum that do not require divine intervention. (By the way, "a preponderance of biologists" is a little weak, considering that it is basically every biologist on the planet minus Professor Behe and a few other DI acolytes.)

Finally you ask: "what criteria are reasonable for us to determine whether or not it is justifiable to believe in an Intelligent Designer?" So why is it that IDers, who purport to be scientists, have to ask what would it take to convince a scientist, or a believer in science, of the existence of intelligent design in nature? What is it about the scientific process that you do not understand that you have to ask?

In any case, I would have to answer that the burden of proof for the existence of a designing intelligence, a.k.a. God (let's call a spade a spade and avoid sophistic definitions of who this designing intelligence really is, shall we?) lies with the believer, not with the non-believer. Therefore, if one makes the claim that the appearance of species can only be explained with the presence of a designer, once again the burden of proof lies with he who makes that claim. And I am afraid that the approach of "How else could it have happened? It couldn't have happened any other way," typical of the ID movement, does not cut it; particularly when another theory, be it evolution or any other scientific theory which may eventually supersede it, can explain the same developments without resorting to divine intervention.

If you believe that evolution is a far-fetched explanation for the appearance (and disappearance) of new species on earth, you have the right to demand that science support its claims. When science does so, in demonstrable ways, you also have the right to say, as you do, that the flagellum could not exist as it is had it not been designed. You also have the right to stick your fingers in your ears and go "la-dee-da, la-dee-da" when biologists explain, in detail, why it isn't so. But if you chose to exercise your right to reject science, don't go seeking any scientific credibility when you propose an unnecessary alternative theory meant to challenge the very scientific evidence which you have just chosen to reject, based not on faulty or contrary evidence, but on faith alone.

John Stockwell said...

Fletcher wrote:
Science is not a worldview, correct... scientism, is however... and that is what I meant.

Some have defined knowledge as "justified true belief" - so the question is, how do you define "justified?" ID is the best explanation for much of what we observe in the universe, both at the micro (the flagellum, yes) and the macro (cosmic constants) level.


I think ID has the upper hand here, but you guys just don't see it because you presuppose materialism which necessarily blinds you to other possibilities.




The justification of scientific results is totally empirical. Science does not purport to deliver "truth" in the philosopher's or the theologian's sense of the word. Science delivers structures called theories, which help us to apprehend, comprehend, and communicate the vast array of observations that we possess, as well as allowing us to have an idea of what to expect, and (more importantly) what not to expect from obervations yet to be made.

In this sense, ID explains nothing at all, it that its only prediction is that there are an array of attributes of the universe that can neither be explained, comprehended nor even described beyond superficialities. Likely candidates (like flagella, or like the cosmological constants) for inexplicability are collected, but are not studied with the intent of understanding.

Indeed, any attempt at scientific explanation is anathema to the ID community and is dismissed as merely evidence that the scientific community is ruled by "materialism". Yet, true "materialism" or ("physicalism" as would be a more precise term) is not really in evidence in the scientific community, as scientists accept that theories are subject to change. ("Truth" is supposed to be unchanging.)

Only an individual who believes that science has *already* explained everything could be accused of being a believer in "scientism". A true scientific investigator recognizes that he or she cannot afford such a viewpoint, as generation by generation, scientists tend to tear down and rebuild the structure of science. Likely there hasn't been a true physicalist in the scientific community since the 1890's when they thought they had it all in the deterministic bag of classical physics.

Indeed, it would appear that the only people who are actually enslaved by "scientism" are, in fact, people such as those in the ID community, who begin with an _a priori_ notion that science is "done", that they aready know "the truth", and that science has to be forced to agree with that "truth".


Fletcher wrote:
Assume just for kicks that there is in fact an ID'er, or "God"... how would you know? What would it take to convince you?


Again, you have asked the same question, and I will give you the same answer: Unless you can precisely describe what you mean by an ID'er or "God", then how can we possibly create a test?

You ask, in effect "What science will lead me to God?" which reveals that your purpose is religious apologetics rather than science. Indeed, the purpose of science is not to lead us to God, but to lead us to a clearer description of the processes by which nature operates. Asking me what science could lead me to God is as silly as asking me what version of the Burpee's seed catalog would lead me to God.