Saturday, December 15, 2007

And the Discovery Institute has a major headdesk moment

Here's old Bill Dembski, being interviewed by Focus on the Family, one of the few remaining forums that take him seriously.

I believe God created the world for a purpose. The Designer of intelligent design is, ultimately, the Christian God.

Whoops. Well, so much for any more attempts to claim in courts of law that ID is purely scientific and isn't about trying to shoehorn Christianity into science classes. Cuz, you see, here's the Discovery Institute's official position:

Does intelligent design postulate a “supernatural creator?”

Overview: No. The ACLU, and many of its expert witnesses, have alleged that teaching the scientific theory of intelligent design (ID) is unconstitutional in all circumstances because it posits a “supernatural creator.” Here we provide several actual statements from intelligent design theorists that the scientific theory of intelligent design does not address metaphysical and religious questions such as the nature or identity of the designer. [Emphasis added by some little atheist smartass.]

Hmm. Awk-warrrd, eh, Billy?

Of course, Dembski has frequently been perfectly open about his religious motivations — when addressing a safe Christian audience. In the world of creationism, talking out of both sides of your mouth is standard operating procedure. It must lead to some really uncomfortable muscle cramps.


  1. Hey, aren't you the kind of guy who would say the what one does/believes in private has nothing to do with his public life?
    Please correct me if I'm wrong about you.

  2. Hey, didn't you actually read the linked article?

  3. Actually Rhology, that was a little rude of me. Let me ask you this though, does Dembski's answers to the interview in the source material give you a warm, happy feeling that he understands what objective research is?

  4. TL,

    No offense taken. :-)
    That he *understands* it, sure.
    That he thinks it's possible for anyone out there on either side, I doubt it based on other things he's said including in a recent public appearance I witnessed.
    And I'd go along with him in that - I see a boatload of bias and ignoring evidence and arguments on the evolutionist side, so...

  5. Hey, aren't you the kind of guy who would say the what one does/believes in private has nothing to do with his public life? Please correct me if I'm wrong about you.

    Leave it to you to get everything wrong, Rho.

    If the DI has a particular spin they're putting on ID for the public, and then Dembski comes along and contradicts that spin in an interview published for the public, how then does your comment apply here in any way? Nice try, though.

    I see a boatload of bias and ignoring evidence and arguments on the evolutionist side, so...

    Oh really. We're all ears....

  6. I agree with you that the Discovery Institute is wrong in trying to minimize the fact that God is the Intelligent Designers. Instead of doing the hard work and over turning this nonsensical revisionist view of the First Amendment that it is illegal to teach about God they have incorrectly tried to compromise who God is, and that is a mistake. Below is a link to the ICR which explains some of the reasons Darwinism is mistaken.

    Not to say the ICR is always right; but they are probably wrong less than Darwinians, who are wrong quite a lot. Perhaps if scientists could just stop trying to shun anything that adds to the credibility of God’s Word, all the evidence could come out. The Bible stands as proof for the origins of life, and has never been disproved. In fact most people who seriously try to disprove the Bible end up converting to Christianity, so perhaps that is why so many scientists are so afraid to acknowledge the truths of the Bible, or even look at it. If as you say there it has no power then you have no reason to fear it; but you are so deeply opposed to it, because you know it does have power, and many of you have even witnessed its power but deny it. I will leave you with a short quote so you can begin to understand that the damage done to society by the gentle cynics is just as great as that done by the religious fanatics.

    The opposite of the religious fanatic is not the fanatical atheist but the gentle cynic who cares not whether there is a god or not.
    - Eric Hoffer

  7. The Bible does stand as proof for the origins of life, and nothing within its pages that has been disproved. There are some things which have obviously cannot be observed, but since everything we can observe has proves true there is no reason to believe that everything else would not prove true if it was possible to fully test it.
    “How so?” you ask. Just like it says in the Bible: “In the Beginning God created the heaven and the Earth”

    “Do you honestly expect us to believe that a book written centuries ago by people with very little knowledge about the natural world trumps the best research we have going today?”

    No, not unless you believe it is the inspired Word of God. I do not know how you would explain the amazing accuracy of the Bible, apart from God. Do you really believe the best research we have going today can answer the questions surrounding the origins of life and our ultimate purpose in life.

    “…they know (and many of the preachers have to know) that their enterprise is bunk but they use the supposed side-lining as an excuse to cover for the fact that creation "science" has yielded not a single practical application to date.”

    Why do you not believe in creation science? Is it because of its lack of pragmatic philosophy, which lacks any way to define truth, or it is it because of a genuine lack of truth? Do you even believe there is really truth or that truth is all relative? It you are looking for pragmatism maybe people like Dewey and Darwin provide that, but if you are looking for truth then try creation science. I personally thought science was about observation, and not about pragmatism, but maybe I was wrong.

    “…pulling at the heart strings in the hope that the mind will soon follow.”

    Interesting you should bring up the brain heart connection. I used to buy into the notion that the brain was totally independent of the heart and that the use of the word heart in the Bible was purely symbolic. Then I got to thinking about how the Bible is literally true, and so I looked into it. The result was that I found the mind to be highly influenced by the heart. Although, science had this quite wrong for a while it is finally starting to catch up to the Bible on this topic. Interesting how the Bible being “archaic” as you say clearly stated just how important the heart is.

    “…it was observed that, the heart communicates with the brain in ways that significantly affect how we perceive and react to the world. It was found that, the heart seemed to have its own peculiar logic that frequently diverged from the direction of the autonomic nervous system. The heart appeared to be sending meaningful messages to the brain that it not only understood, but also obeyed (Lacey and Lacey, 1978). Later, neurophysiologists discovered a neural pathway and mechanism whereby input from the heart to the brain could inhibit or facilitate the brain’s electrical activity (McCraty, 202)”

    “…a growing body of evidence now suggests that the heart plays a particularly significant role in this process. The above findings indicate that, the heart is far more than a simple pump. In fact, it is sen now as a highly complex, self organizing information processing centre with its own functional ‘brain’ that communicates with, and influences, the cranial brain via the nervous system, hormonal system and other pathways.”
    The Brain in the Heart,%20Mind%20and%20Spirit%20%20Mohamed%20Salem.pdf

    “The creationist movement is not only bankrupt on logical and scientific grounds, it also has no moral authority to speak of. They have conceded it entirely to the scientific community with their despicable behaviour.”

    Who said anything about the moral authority of the creationist movement? I was talking about the moral authority of the Bible. Creation science only stands on the moral authority of the Bible which is the word of God, so ultimately it stands on the moral authority of God. Sometimes people do make mistakes when they do not stand on Biblical facts. However, if you are referring to creation research regarding evolutionary heresy would you cite some facts as to where you believe creation science is wrong. Also, why do they need moral authority, if they present facts should we not consider them, instead of playing lawyer games; by attempting to discredit the people instead of the facts, which come from God. If someone such as Bill Clinton, who has clearly deceived many people, said something I would not automatically disqualify it based on his lack of character, but would judge his statement based on the facts.

    “I'll just run through a few little facts about the world, to try to impress upon you the difficulty of forcing a Biblical interpretation on the natural order:”

    Thank you for trying to impress me with your scientific knowledge. I am not impressed, although I do commend your for presenting some scientific information here. So, let me get down to the meat, I think first your comment represents a bit of misunderstanding of the creation side of the argument, although you seem to understand the Darwinian side well. Many people often confused that the issue is more centered on the missing links and abiogensis. So I qualify want I believe is accepted as truth, at least by the majority of creation scientists, and what is unproven Darwinian evolution. It is accepted that natural selection does occur. It is accepted that organisms do adapt within the limitation of the available their genetics, according to their genes and would have many redundancies in order to enable this adaption. They also adapt via special operons which turn on and off certain genes based on environmental factors, such as the lac operon. It is not accepted that mutations yield substantial benefit to organism, or that one species changes to into another, since this has never been observed. However, it is accepted that for example a Chihuahua and Great Dane are both dogs which have evolved or changed through microevolution. Accordingly, it is important to remember this distinction between microevolution and macroevolution. Furthermore, there Darwinian evolution is seen as a web of lies and facts, so it will obviously take time to sort out all of the fact from fiction, considering creation scientists get no federal funding, and little money to work with.

    --endogenous retroviruses -
    --psuedogenes and fossil genes –

    “The alternative is that God placed them in the same places of the chromosomes in each lineage and then deactivated them. Of course, it's also possible that these elements just happen, by pure chance, to have been reverse transcribed into the same chromosome locations thousands of times independently. But the odds against that are astronomical.”

    So you are auguring against creation by arguing against pure chance. The odds against life evolving coming from non life are also astronomical, yet you assert that happened. So if evolution does not operate under pure chance, then is it now considering some guides law of the universe?

    This is interesting, why would deactivated chromosomes in both us and chimpanzees prove we share ancestors. We simply share a common creator, which is God. Things like these actually seem to support creation, because if we have all these chromosomes and methods for adaptation, then we can logically explain how God engineered animals to adapt within the limits of their genetic materials and species, not by mutation. If we evolved over a long time through much mutation as Darwinists say we would expect much more genetic diversity. We are not separated from monkeys by pure mechanics, but by things such as by our knowledge of good and evil, lack of instinct, lack of habitat, our unnatural nature, etc.

    “Obviously, there is no problem understanding that HERVs have roles in regulating genes (a God-designed function) and causing disease (due to mutations in HERVs as a result of the Fall). It has been suggested that HERVs and other transposable elements played a role in rapid genetic changes that occurred post-Flood to allow humans and animals to adapt to different environments, as suggested by the AGEing (altruistic genetic elements) mechanism.5 One article states, “Whether these repeated sequences [referring to transposable elements] are now ‘junk DNA’ is a complex issue.”4 Biblical creationists do not think that HERVs are “junk” DNA, but much work needs to be done to gain a greater understanding of the role of HERVs in the past and present. The difference is our starting point—the Word of God versus the word of man.”

    “Many evolutionary biologists consider the 99% genetic similarity between humans and chimpanzees as strong evidence for evolution. This study demonstrates that while a high degree of genetic similarity exists, the way in which those genes are used (gene expression) is quite different in the human and chimpanzee cerebral cortex. Human brains display a higher level of gene expression than chimpanzees. Researchers think that this may explain the profound differences between human and chimpanzee brain function. As this study indicates, genetic similarity is a meaningless comparison. Rather, it’s how the genes are used that is critical, and in this respect humans and chimpanzees are radically different. It appears that the Creator used the same building blocks (genes) to construct both humans and chimpanzees, but used them in very different ways.” Mario Caceres et al., “Elevated Gene Expression Levels Distinguish Human from Non-human Primate Brains,” PNAS, USA 100 (2003), 13030-35. “Researchers Discover Genes that Distinguish Human, Nonhuman Primate Brains,”

    “So why would God place hundreds of pseudogenes on the same chromosomes in the same locations in different animals?”

    Why not? Again we are not separated from animals by simple mechanics, but by our soul, knowledge of good and evil, lack of natural habit, and instinct, etc. I think we should rather be asking why no other animal in the entire universe act as strangely and unnatural as humans. That is if what separates us from the animals. Additionally, having extra genes perhaps allows animal more genetic diversity without the use of mutations, and if they are really pseudogenes genes perhaps they are just simply God leaving a signature telling us He made all of these things. Additionally, these mechanic similarities across some many species point to a signal maker, who is God. What do you propose co evolution, what are the odds that so many similarities would remain across all these species if evolution did work by such mutation as you say.

    “There are 481 segments longer than 200 base pairs (bp) that are absolutely conserved (100% identity with no insertions or deletions) between orthologous regions of the human, rat, and mouse genomes. Nearly all of these segments are also conserved in the chicken and dog genomes, with an average of 95 and 99% identity, respectively. Many are also significantly conserved in fish. These ultraconserved elements of the human genome are most often located either overlapping exons in genes involved in RNA processing or in introns or nearby genes involved in the regulation of transcription and development. Along with more than 5000 sequences of over 100 bp that are absolutely conserved among the three sequenced mammals, these represent a class of genetic elements whose functions and evolutionary origins are yet to be determined, but which are more highly conserved between these species than are proteins and appear to be essential for the ontogeny of mammals and other vertebrates. “

    Where is the genetic diversity and mutations which would be required for Darwinian evolution, to have causes the divergence between all of these species. Again God created both humans and animals, so it would make sense that he would use things that are universally exchangeable throughout an entire ecosystem, such as ATP a universal energy currency. I would be interested to hear your theory about how ATP evolved, as I am sure you have some theory.

    -- selective sweeps -
    Here are your key words for selective sweeps they are: “neutral and even slightly deleterious” just as we would expect. Where are your beneficial mutations necessary for macroevolution, that is what we reject the notion that there are beneficial mutations, not the neutral or slightly deleterious ones.

    -- "selfish DNA" –
    “Did God need all that genetic material to build a salamander - probably less complex than a human - and yet only a third as much to build a person? There are also some genes which get transcribed into RNA, but then one of the RNA codons has to be "edited" by an enzyme, otherwise it would be fatal to the organism. Mutants that lack this enzyme die. This isn't intelligent design. It's sloppy and is more reminiscent of a Third World mechanic who improvises and uses the materials immediately available to him than that it is to a First World engineer using CAD. There are so many redundancies, oddities and just plain bad design in organisms that either a fool or a malevolent demon could be the culprit if it wasn't evolution.”

    “Evolutionary biologists maintain that junk DNA provides incontrovertible evidence for evolution. This study demonstrates that intergenic (between gene) and intronic (within gene) "junk" DNA has function, since harmful mutations occur in these regions of the genome. In fact, this study’s authors suggest that deleterious mutations in junk DNA are associated with genetic disorders. Function for intergenic and intronic DNA indicates that careful planning by an Intelligent Designer, rather than undirected, random biochemical events, shaped the genomes of organisms.” Peter D. Keightley and Daniel J. Gaffney, “Functional Constraints and Frequency of Deleterious Mutations in Noncoding DNA of Rodents,”

    Humans are not mechanically better than animals; we obviously lack instinct, and are extremely unnatural. So we disprove evolution, we break the whole framework. What separates us is our spirit, not a bunch of programmed mechanism. If we had a bunch more programmed mechanism we would simply be a more complex robot, just like any other animal; however we have a spirit or soul, which does not require any more genetic programming. If, we look at the Bible God engineered species for survival, and what you may view as sloppy is perhaps what you just have no understanding of yet. Also if mutants that lack the enzyme die, then there is no way to evolve outside of the DNA, this goes right along with the creation science view that evolution only occurs within the limits of our genetic material, and we would they would obviously need more genetic material to adapt. I think it is incredible that animals have all of these redundancies; so they can survive and adapt as programmed by God. Also you are neglecting the fall of man, which is when man was cursed for disobedience, and so we likely left unable to naturally adapt. Obviously man was perfect in the beginning, but since the fall God allowed imperfections to creep in. Also you are right there was a malevolent demon involved in the fall of man, which was Lucifer. As a result of man following the malevolent demon instead of God we were cursed. As I am sure you also know that was not the end, because God also provided an answer who is Jesus Christ.

    -- sexual antagonism – “Again, none of this indicates intelligent design. It is entirely what would be expected, however, if you have evolving agents with differing interests.”

    Let me ask you, what an evolving agent is, because it sounds similar to an intelligent agency. Why would evolution have differing interests, and where would these different interests come from? When did male and female diverge from one another? I think you are kind of arguing against your own theory here, because I was under the impression that this enabled survival of the fitness. Ensuring that the most fit mate transferred there DNA. Certainly, we see this in crazy competition between the sexes today, but the question you should really be asking here is why have humans realized that it is wrong to do things such as eat their young. Where did they obtain this knowledge of good and evil, or do you believe it is not wrong to eat your young? The Bible tells us why we understand that it is wrong to eat our young, and to sacrifice the weaker of the race. Humans clearly see arms races as wrong, as where animals have no knowledge of good and evil so they act as they are programmed by God. You have not demonstrated new mutations for the sexual adaption, so I see no conflict in what you sate about sexual antagonism. Although, I do not believe it occurred before the fall of man so, there is also a possibly this battle could be symbolic of the battle between good and evil.

    -- parasitism -
    Did a benevolent God instead intelligently design these organisms, with their complex adaptations for circumventing the defences of other animals (defences which are themselves often complex, like our own immune system)?

    What you have neglected to mention here are the great setbacks the theory of spontaneous generation has caused us in this area of germ research. People used to really think parasites could actually come from nonlife, and so people were misled by the irrational theory of spontaneous generation, which scientists are still clinging to today. Finally, this theory was disproved by Louis Pasteur and others, and has advanced our understanding greatly. So, I do not understand why evolutionary scientists want to that a step backwards by continually looking for ways to this prove the disproved theory of spontaneous generation.

    Again, similar to the arms race between male and female it is hard to pin this one down. When do you think parasitism began? Likely these types of things are the result of the fall of man, because I cannot conceive of an evolutionary purpose for parasites, can you? I think that providing us with an immune system to fight back is a benevolent act. Again this could also be symbolic of the battle between good and evil, and pointing to God. This world is imperfect in its current state. While God is benevolent he is also Holy and Just and demands punishment for evil. He provided the answer to this dilemma in Jesus Christ. Again “It may seem strange that God placed such temptation before man, but it is not wrong of God to provide an opportunity for man to demonstrate his obedience and thus receive greater blessing. God later tested Abraham to offer his son Isaac, and gave him greater blessing as reward for his obedience. However, Satan’s motive was very different. It was not wrong for man to listen to the temptation—nor was it sin to be tempted. Sin was the yielding to temptation.”

    “Our species has come of age, because we understand the process that gave rise to us. That's as uplifting and inspiring as anything. Many, though, still prefer to wallow in their personal incredulity, accepting the trivial non-answers provided by religion, thinking that they have all the answers just because they have read an archaic book written by pre-scientific nomads; the height of arrogance and a display of utter contempt and non-interest in the methodology or the findings of science.”

    Would you rather we worship the finding of science? The Bible has stood the test of time; it has stood up to the many attacks for eons. Science and technology is nothing new as the ancient world also had fancy science and technology too and look where it got them. I do not think we are claiming to have all the answers because we read the Bible, because God has clearly not revealed everything in the Bible. Therefore, for the things not reveled in the Bible we must make hypothesis based on what we know, just like scientists. The only difference is that we have metaphysical truths revealed through the Bible so we can put some scientific facts in a better perspective. These metaphysical truth serve as prima fascia evidence for the existence of God, and have not been disproved.

    “To acknowledge that we are evolved beings, on the other hand, is truly humbling, and it's poetic and more haunting than anything in any creation myth. Why cheapen all this by saying that instead it was God who lovingly fashioned the biosphere so that we could live in it? There's simply no comparison. The former is deeply wonderful, exquisite (with all the quirks and redundancies mentioned previously), utterly fascinating, challenging and eye-opening, allowing us to see how we are linked to the universe not only through our affinities with other creatures, but with the processes and chemistry and matter that make up the universe; the other is a children's fairy tale that isn't even remotely plausible, is boringly parochial, petty, and requires endless ad hoc fixes to make it hold together. We have no need to "deny" it, because it collapses on its own complete lack of merit. Far from us being the ones who are "afraid", I rather think it's you who's afraid, and for good reason. You must, in some corner of your mind, know that the gig is up. But I'm saying that this isn't grounds for despair, because the truth that you've been missing out on is so much more awesome than the mythology you've subscribed to.”

    How is all this wonderful, exquisite, and eye-opening? This sounds just like ancient paganism or the occult when you say we are all connected with affinities to other creatures. Perhaps, you may call it New Age religion today, but it is nothing new. How are we connected? Are we not connected by spirit? I fail to see anything wonderful about our utter lack of natural connection in modern society; we cannot even survive without depleting natural resources. On one hand you call nature malevolent and on the other hand you call it exquisite. Do you find it exquisite that we turn back to dust? Perhaps if we call it star dust that is what makes it sound poetic and amazing. We have no instinct, and are completely unable to survive apart from our unnatural technologies, which is destroying this planet. We are a parasite as most scientists see us. The Bible provides are reason to preserve our parasitic race, which cannot be obtained through science. Also, the Bible provides the answer for our lack of harmony, i.e. the fall. Darwinian evolution has no answer apart from the craziness known as social evolution, which leaves us without morals, and allows the false notion that African’s are inferior, as asserted by the famous scientist James Watson. Likely James Watson has been deceived by Darwinian social evolution, and would also encourage a parent to abort a baby if they knew it was going to be gay. So, while Darwinian evolution promotes a belief in racism Christianity promotes equality.

  8. Jon...

    "The Bible does stand as proof for the origins of life, and nothing within its pages that has been disproved. There are some things which have obviously cannot be observed, but since everything we can observe has proves true..."

    My favorite college course was an Intro to the OT class where the professor (a former Baptist preacher) flat-out said that a vast majority of the Bible was either symbolism or outright falsehoods. A great man but, needless to say, not very popular with a certain segment of the student body.

    Sure, you can read the Bible and find facts in there; it talks about some real places and real historical figures. That's not disputed.

    But there's also a massive amount of fabrication, fact-stretching, and fantasy. And just because they mention real cities and people doesn't mean that everything else in the Bible is true.

    If the Bible is so damn accurate and "has never been disproved," then riddle me this...

    Where is the archeological proof that the Jews spent forty years roaming through the desert after the whole Egypt fiasco? Millions of people traveling that sort of distance are guaranteed to leave behind obvious evidence of their travels. Yet, no evidence has ever been produced.

    If you want to spend a lifetime combing the desert for evidence that doesn't exist, you're welcome to do so, but as far as the scientific community is concerned, that little episode is solidly "disproved."

    Also, where's the hard evidence of a global flood? Answers in Genesis and ICR "research" doesn't count, because just throwing out some shite about the Grand Canyon being carved in 40 days doesn't cut it as far reputable science goes. The only "scientists" who don't consider the Flood "disproved" are those who believe it happend despite the immeasurable evidence to the contrary.

    And, to Rho...

    "I see a boatload of bias and ignoring evidence and arguments on the evolutionist side, so..."

    As Martin said, "We're all ears." Seriously. I'd really like to know what evidence has been ignored, and by whom.

  9. You know, I really should pay more attention to the older comment threads. I had no idea this creationist tool Jon had turned up, but Lui did such a gloriously detailed and supremely eloquent job of demolishing his long-winded ignorant blather that I simply stand in awe. For all the rhetoric guys like Jon spew — and boy, what a huge, fiber-laden chunk it was — it all wilts under the harsh sunlight of facts.

    It's important to know that people like Jon exist in great numbers, and that this is what science education is up against. The man's very thinking processes are hopelessly dysfunctional. He pontificates with complete confidence about how wrong he thinks evolutionary science is and how it supposedly lacks evidence...and then in the same breath he'll start talking about demons with a perfectly straight face. One of the most insidious evils of religion is that it deprives the believer of the ability to distinguish fantasy from reality. In Jon we see the mental chaos in which it results all too depressingly.

  10. jon was pwnd

  11. I stand in awe after the glorious way in which Lui pwned Jon in such an elocuent and honest way! I'm really amazed and I sincerely would like to have all that mental stamina to endure a confrontation with such an ovbiously deluded person as Jon appears tobe.

    My respect goes to you, dear sir.


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