Join 3,417 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Orson's Intelligent? Examination of Intelligent Design
January 20, 2006 11:10 AM   Subscribe

A conservative Metafilter loves to hate weighs in on the issue of intelligent design being incorporated into the classroom. Some of Orson Scott Card's views have been linked to before (see here; here; and most notably here.) This time, he seems to be less reactionary and more thoughtful. This is related to many prior Mefi threads on this issue some of which include this; this; and this.
posted by bove (177 comments total)

 
I love to read Orson's musings about the world because even though I am also fairly conservative, he views are often wildly different than mine on many issues. Plus it is fascinating to me to get a glimpse into the mind of an author whose fiction I enjoy.
posted by bove at 11:12 AM on January 20, 2006


I'm just depressed to find an author of several books I've enjoyed is such a complete douchebag.



But hey, that's life.
posted by stenseng at 11:14 AM on January 20, 2006


Evolution happens and obviously happened in the natural world, and natural selection plays a role in it. But we do not have adequate theories yet to explain completely how evolution works and worked at the biochemical level.

what
posted by rxrfrx at 11:16 AM on January 20, 2006


I thought the first link was an announcement about a conservative Metafilter member loving to hate. Upon clicking, I was sad not to see a news link about that.
posted by Peter H at 11:20 AM on January 20, 2006


Conservative Metafilterer loves to hate
posted by rxrfrx at 11:23 AM on January 20, 2006


We love to hate him? Really?

I know him personally; he and my wife have explored potential business relationships. I can honestly say that, whether I agree with him or not on a given issue (and believe me it goes both ways) his heart is most certainly in the right place.

And of course I am a huge fan of his short stories, predating the aforementioned business relationship.
posted by davejay at 11:25 AM on January 20, 2006


Boy that was alot of wind to get to this, "Meanwhile ... what do I believe about the origin of life? I believe that God created it, employing and obeying natural laws, but at levels beyond our understanding. I believe we're here on this earth for God's beneficent purposes."

Basically, God exists because God exists. Same stupid and completely worthless argument for Intelligent Design.

I've got no problem with ID being taught in schools but not in a science class, it should be taught in religious studies because ID is not a scientifically based theory. Its an opinion wrapped up in theory-type words.

It fails under even the most cursory scientific testing. Presupposing your conclusion is a pretty good indicator that your "science" is flawed.
posted by fenriq at 11:26 AM on January 20, 2006


Don't feel bad, stenseng, if you had to stop enjoying art produced by complete douchebags, there wouldn't be much left.
posted by you just lost the game at 11:27 AM on January 20, 2006


I don't love to hate Orson Scott Card. I would much prefer to like him, and I would, if he didn't hold such hateful and anti-American political and religious views.
posted by Faint of Butt at 11:30 AM on January 20, 2006


davejay: the comment that Mefi loves to hate him was just based on my impression of prior threads where his views were discussed. I thought that this most recent article of his was interesting and so I decided to post it. I think what is fascinating for me and for a lot of others is how much insight his various position pieces and even reviews give readers and fans of his fiction into his personal views. And for people like stenseng and Faint of Butt this is not always insight that they are happy about.

On preview: but fenriq, he also explicitly says taht he does not want schools teaching this (or intelligent design). In fact he says the problem with intelligent design is that although it brings up a good question it also tries to give us an answer without any scientific evidence.
posted by bove at 11:32 AM on January 20, 2006


Who are these "Darwinists" of which he speaks, and where is their temple of worship?

They think if they can shoot down one or two minor points, then the whole problem will go away.

Is he talking about "Darwinists" here, or "Designists"? Really hard to tell.
posted by GhostintheMachine at 11:32 AM on January 20, 2006


taht = that
posted by bove at 11:32 AM on January 20, 2006


I wonder if he applies the same critical standards against "credentialism" and "expertism" when he goes to the doctor.

This is an interesting link in terms of celebrity, but offers little in the way of making ID more palatable than the crock it is.
posted by bardic at 11:33 AM on January 20, 2006


“I believe that God created it, employing and obeying natural laws, but at levels beyond our understanding. I believe we're here on this earth for God's beneficent purposes.
But I have no interest whatsoever in having schoolteachers train my or anyone else's children in any religion.”


So....what’s the problem? I couldn’t care less what OSC believes. I don’t want anyone pushing any beliefs on my kids. He doesn’t want to push. I’m not seeing a conflict.

Although that “God’s beneficient purposes” makes me chuckle. As does “obeying natural laws.” (Hyakujo’s Fox comes to mind).
But I don’t want to get in anyone’s face here if he’s not challenging what we teach in schools.
posted by Smedleyman at 11:33 AM on January 20, 2006


Good point bardic - this entire essay is an exercise in "famoussciencefictionwriterism". A very deadly logical flaw.
posted by rks404 at 11:34 AM on January 20, 2006


Creation Science was an attempt by fundamentalist Christians to give the Genesis account, as interpreted by them, a scientific veneer.

Now the controversy is between advocates of the theory of Intelligent Design vs. strict Darwinists. And some people want you to think it's the same argument.

It isn't.


Umm, there's a federal judge who ruled on the recent PA case who would strenuoyly disagree with Mr. Card.

Can somebody send OSC this link [warning pdf]. It's a pretty awesome ruling, based on, ya know, facts and stuff....from a conservative judge.
posted by wah at 11:36 AM on January 20, 2006


You know, that entire article was unnecessary, really. He spends a lot of words attributing "so just shut up"-style rhetoric to those opposed to the teaching of Intelligent Design, for instance; all (yes, all) of those opposed to teaching Intelligent Design that I know personally believe that the problem isn't one of "Darwin's right so everyone else be quiet", but of "Intelligent Design isn't a scientific theory, but a layman's one -- 'I don't see how it could have happened gradually, so it must have happened all at once.'"

All he needed to say was this paragraph from his article:


Evolution happens and obviously happened in the natural world, and natural selection plays a role in it. But we do not have adequate theories yet to explain completely how evolution works and worked at the biochemical level.


No more, no less.
posted by davejay at 11:37 AM on January 20, 2006


It's depressing that such a fine science fiction writer has absolutely no grasp of science.
posted by bshort at 11:37 AM on January 20, 2006


err, strenuously.

As a matter of fact, the judge's ruling absolutely destroys OSC's arguments as well.
posted by wah at 11:38 AM on January 20, 2006


and what bshort said.
posted by davejay at 11:38 AM on January 20, 2006


"I'm just depressed to find an author of several books I've enjoyed is such a complete douchebag."

Actually he's a Mormon. So while it may be true that he's a douchebag, it's just too simplistic to leave it at that. As a Mormon he has a rather large theological context which compels him to be a douchebag. If you were to ask him something like, "Why do you need to be such a douchebag?", he could very legitimately answer, "It's sort of required by my world view." So it might be better to blame his cult than to dismiss him with such labels.

Keep in mind that if he could be deprogrammed you'd like him just fine.
posted by y6y6y6 at 11:38 AM on January 20, 2006


"But the problems that the Designists raise with the Darwinian model are, in fact, problems. They do understand the real science, and the Darwinian model is, in fact, inadequate to explain how complex systems, which fail without all elements in place, could arise through random mutation and natural selection."

So let's just make something up to fill in the blanks that coincidentally arrives at the same conclusion as those wacky creationists.
Brilliant!
posted by 2sheets at 11:39 AM on January 20, 2006


This is really a case of "laymanism" - "I don't understand how something very complicated and intricate works, therefore no one else understands it, therefore it must have happened because God exists."

It's almost like an appeal to ignorance.
posted by bshort at 11:40 AM on January 20, 2006


By allowing themselves to be dragged into an extended debate about teaching ID in the classroom, the lefties are losing sight of the bigger picture. The real issue is keeping religion out of the classroom. Win that, and the teaching of ID becomes a moot point.

This is a tactic that's been used again and again, with remarkable success by the neocons. A prime example was the Swift Boat Veterans. They bogged down the Kerry campaign, tricking them into fighting a minor battle with major firepower. Meanwhile the Bush camp orchestrated the war, and won.
posted by mad judge pickles at 11:41 AM on January 20, 2006


"Actually he's a Mormon."

Aw geez, if I'd known that I wouldn't have wasted my time responding to someone who believes Joseph Smith recieved the word of God through a magic hat.
posted by 2sheets at 11:41 AM on January 20, 2006


Whatever happened to OSC? Ender's Game, Speaker for the Dead, the Alvin Maker books, and his early short fiction were all brilliant. The politics of his website, I find ill-defended and intolerable.
posted by sindark at 11:42 AM on January 20, 2006


mad judge pickles - That's an excellent point.
posted by bshort at 11:42 AM on January 20, 2006


God exists because God exists. Same stupid and completely worthless argument for Intelligent Design.

I thought the stupid argument for intelligent design was that "it's all just too complicated to be evolution." In fact, I thought that was the very argument that the term I.D. referred to.

One can simultaneously accept evolution and believe in God as creator, but "Intelligent Design" can't, IMO, be reasonably part of the equation.

Oh, and yes, Card seems to be a douchebag. But that has nothing to do with his being a mormon. And can we lay off of the negative religious stereotypes and insults based on incorrect broad generalizations?
posted by JekPorkins at 11:42 AM on January 20, 2006



posted by Optimus Chyme at 11:44 AM on January 20, 2006


I'm just depressed to find an author of several books I've enjoyed is such a complete douchebag.

I had the same feeling after I heard Ray Bradbury speak for the first time. Distance make the heart grow fonder, and in many instances, complete absence of any personal knowledge about a person idealizes them accordingly. But this is the inevitable fallout of blogging, etc. - we know people in ways we never wanted to.
posted by quadog at 11:45 AM on January 20, 2006


And can we lay off of the negative religious stereotypes and insults based on incorrect broad generalizations?

Probably not. Do you know what the Mormons believe? Do you think it sounds like the product of a rational mind?

You better be wearing your magic underwear or you're not going to get your very own planet when you die.
posted by bshort at 11:46 AM on January 20, 2006


Card is an ignorant asshat (at least in this context).
Basically, Behe's approach was this: Complex systems in advanced organisms depend on many biochemical steps, all of which must be in place for the system to work at all.

So how, Behe asked, could such a complex system have evolved, if the only method available was random variation plus natural selection?
Well, that just shows how Behe has falsely limited the ways in which evolution can work.

From the judge's ruling.
In addition to Professor Behe’s admitted failure to properly address the very phenomenon that irreducible complexity purports to place at issue, natural selection, Drs. Miller and Padian testified that Professor Behe’s concept of irreducible complexity depends on ignoring ways in which evolution is known to occur. Although Professor Behe is adamant in his definition of irreducible complexity when he says a precursor “missing a part is by definition nonfunctional,” what he obviously means is that it will not function in the same way the system functions when all the parts are present. For example in the case of the bacterial flagellum, removal of a part may prevent it from acting as a rotary
motor. However, Professor Behe excludes, by definition, the possibility that a precursor to the bacterial flagellum functioned not as a rotary motor, but in some other way, for example as a secretory system.
BTW, you can do this with every single bullet point OSC brings up. The ruling covers them all.
posted by wah at 11:47 AM on January 20, 2006


I'll confess that I skimmed the article rather than fully digesting it. I'm afraid that a symptom of "famoussciencefictionwriterism" is a lack of editing. But I'll agree with his basic premise that much of the debate about Intelligent Design is not conducted on scientific grounds, and that:

"Here's the only correct answer to the Designists:

7. Yes, there are problems with the Darwinian model. But those problems are questions. "Intelligent design" is an answer, and you have no evidence at all for that.
"

I don't agree with his implied premise that the science faction is at fault for the lack of substance to the debate, but I can imagine from where he sits that it looks that way.
posted by Manjusri at 11:48 AM on January 20, 2006


Personally, I don't think OSC is a particularly fine science fiction writer. Ender's Game was only average at best. The only thing it had going for it was that it shamelessly exploited some of the worst impulses of bright, picked-on children.

I do give him full credit for predicting the power and impact of blogs in Ender's Game, though. I'm not sure anybody else managed to nail the concept so completely, so early.
posted by empath at 11:49 AM on January 20, 2006


pickles--I kind of see your point, but how are fighting ID and keeping religious mythology out of the (science) classroom mutually exclusive? Six of one, half-a-dozen etc.

(I think kids should be exposed to religious studies, but in the context of World History and Social Studies.)
posted by bardic at 11:53 AM on January 20, 2006


Perhaps he believes that the story of Life On Earth follows the same template as Ender's Game: 300 pages of setup followed by a lame "O. Henry" ending that only a hydrocephalic box turtle wouldn't see coming from miles away.
posted by sourwookie at 11:54 AM on January 20, 2006


You better be wearing your magic underwear or you're not going to get your very own planet when you die.

See, this is the kind of inaccurate generalization I'm referring to. When you take a non-mormon's characterization of something that they think is a mormon belief and then word it intentionally to be an insult or joke, that's just lame.

And mormons claim that their beliefs originate from God, not from rational analysis. So of course they don't sound like the product of a rational mind - they don't claim to be. But I do know what some mormons believe -- and I know that not all members of any given religion believe the same things.
posted by JekPorkins at 11:54 AM on January 20, 2006


"And can we lay off of the negative religious stereotypes and insults based on incorrect broad generalizations?"

Incorrect? Stereotypes? Generalizations?

Having grown up with Morons, spending a great deal of time studying their religion, attending their services, discussing a large range of topics with them at length, reading rom the Book Of Mormon, and pondering the issue for a few decades, I think I can dismiss such accusations.

The Mormon church is a cult. People who think otherwise either lack perspective or they don't know much about the one-to-one intersection between Mormon practices and cult practices.
posted by y6y6y6 at 11:55 AM on January 20, 2006


But we do not have adequate theories yet to explain completely how evolution works and worked at the biochemical level.

This is probably because evolution (of species) does not work or exist or even make sense at the biochemical level. That's like saying we don't really understand highway traffic patterns at the level of pistons and sparkplugs.
posted by freebird at 11:57 AM on January 20, 2006


See, this is the kind of inaccurate generalization I'm referring to. When you take a non-mormon's characterization of something that they think is a mormon belief and then word it intentionally to be an insult or joke, that's just lame.

How would you word it so that it wouldn't be patently fucking ridiculous? Fact: Mormons have to wear special undergarments. Fact: Jesus lives on a planet near the star Kolob. Fact: when you die, if you are a righteous Mormon, you get your own planet. Please restate the above so they don't fail the laugh test.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 12:00 PM on January 20, 2006


The Mormon church is a cult.

Every church is a cult, by definition. I have no desire to propagate another dumbass mefi thread about mormons. I do, however, implore mefites to lay off attacking what they perceive to be the religious beliefs of others. That's certainly not the best of the web.
posted by JekPorkins at 12:01 PM on January 20, 2006


One can simultaneously accept evolution and believe in God as creator...

Well, if you really "accept" evolution then you also have to take a look at several hard questions about the nature and existence of the human soul.

But the normal answer of the Darwinists is also a leap of faith. In effect, their arguments boil down to this: We have no idea right now how these complex systems came to be, but we have fervent, absolute faith that when we do figure it out, it will be found to have a completely mechanical, natural cause that requires no "intelligent designer" at all.

This is nonsense. No biologist will a priori rule out an intelligent design. And his use of the word "mechanical" is laughable. What the hell is a "mechanical, natural cause"? Are there causes that aren't mechanical and non-natural? If you look at people like Card's argument, it's quite clear that this is where so much of the tension comes from. His disingenious attempt to separate evolution from "Darwinism" and make space for a "non-mechanical" creator is just another disingenious attempt to sneak God in the back door and allow for a human soul.
posted by nixerman at 12:02 PM on January 20, 2006


Not only that, freebird, but the entire point of ID is that we can't know many things. God did it, and is waaaay smarter than any mere humans.

Although, as far as I can tell, it's our conception of reality that gave birth to God, but then again, anthropically biased thinking is tough to get around.
posted by wah at 12:02 PM on January 20, 2006


See, this is the kind of inaccurate generalization I'm referring to. When you take a non-mormon's characterization of something that they think is a mormon belief and then word it intentionally to be an insult or joke, that's just lame.

And mormons claim that their beliefs originate from God, not from rational analysis. So of course they don't sound like the product of a rational mind - they don't claim to be. But I do know what some mormons believe -- and I know that not all members of any given religion believe the same things.


And that's exactly why we keep having to coddle these idiots who think that we should teach their own personal form of insanity in public schools.

So mormons believe in something that doesn't originate from rational analysis? Why is that? Why should I not criticize that? Why should they get a free pass because they claim that it's their religon?

People should be expected to explain their beliefs, and to defend them when it's necessary.
posted by bshort at 12:02 PM on January 20, 2006


Fuck him. Fucking ignorant fucks fighting against gynecology in the name of Storkism.

I've given up trying to argue with people like that. Go ahead and flush your brain damaged society into the dark ages, I'm past caring.
posted by fleetmouse at 12:04 PM on January 20, 2006


Man, I had no idea OSC was such an ignoramus about evolution and such a propagandist for anti-science. He even tells some outright lies about the nature of the debunking of Behe's nonsense. Perhaps he's hoping to boost sales of his books by sucking up to the very large goober contingent in the US. The poor, desperate little man.
posted by Decani at 12:06 PM on January 20, 2006


Every church is a cult, by definition. I have no desire to propagate another dumbass mefi thread about mormons. I do, however, implore mefites to lay off attacking what they perceive to be the religious beliefs of others. That's certainly not the best of the web.

Uh, no. Although we shouldn't teach religon in public schools whether the religon in question is mainstream or not.

And, this is a guy who posts, on his own blog, about how cool his religon is and why those "darwinists" are just wrong. Why should we not criticize the fact that he's a religous fanatic, and the characteristics of the religon that contributed to his world view?

Why is that off limits?
posted by bshort at 12:08 PM on January 20, 2006


Once again, we are that much dumber because of a reactionary post. Cheers!
posted by gsb at 12:09 PM on January 20, 2006


Ok, this is the last one from me on this thread. Want more? Email me.

Fact: Mormons have to wear special undergarments.

So what? Nuns wear a whole special costume. If we're going to mock, let's be equal opportunity jerks.

Fact: Jesus lives on a planet near the star Kolob.

That's a fairly meaningless statement, without having any idea where Kolob is. Maybe it's referring to Earth. Since mormon doctrine contains no further explanation for that statement, the only reason it's laughable is because the name of the star is unfamiliar. (Kansas, I say, is the name of the star)

Fact: when you die, if you are a righteous Mormon, you get your own planet.

That's a pretty severe misstatement of the doctrine, but even if it wasn't, what's laughable about it? If God can create a planet, what's laughable about one of his children doing the same thing at some point?

Please restate the above so they don't fail the laugh test.

That's probably not possible, since you'd probably laugh at any religious belief that had the term "mormon" associated with it.
posted by JekPorkins at 12:09 PM on January 20, 2006


how are fighting ID and keeping religious mythology out of the (science) classroom mutually exclusive?

They're not mutually exclusive. However, maybe (and it's just a maybe) it's better to concentrate on the broad brush issue. As far as I'm concerned, the debate about whether religion is taught in school, or not, is far more visceral than what many might perceive as a fringe debate about the mechanics (or lack thereof) of evolution.

I'm just saying, in my own convoluted way, that the left need to pick their battles more carefully. At the moment, these ID debates are springing up, seemingly at random, like wildfires that the left rush around breathlessly trying to put out. Not enough people understand the ID debate to have any real interest in it, so why not ignore it? If religion is kept out of schools, the whole notion of ID will remain as a niche populated by the few amongst us that want to be deluded.
posted by mad judge pickles at 12:10 PM on January 20, 2006


That's probably not possible, since you'd probably laugh at any religious belief that had the term "mormon" associated with it.

Actually, no. But I'll certainly laugh at any one who espouses world views that are based on non-falsifiable, irrational beliefs.
posted by bshort at 12:14 PM on January 20, 2006


:applauds jekporkins' apologetics:

Now do Scientology!
posted by fleetmouse at 12:14 PM on January 20, 2006


posted by sourwookie at 2:54 PM EST on January 20
Perhaps he believes that the story of Life On Earth follows the same template as Ender's Game: 300 pages of setup followed by a lame "O. Henry" ending that only a hydrocephalic box turtle wouldn't see coming from miles away.
Funny that you mention O'Henry as both authors lived in Greensboro, NC at least part of their lives. Or, was that reference intentional? Anyway NC locals know that Card is a frequent contributor to the most ridiculous free newspaper in town; The Rhinoceros Times.
posted by lyam at 12:22 PM on January 20, 2006


FOB: "I don't love to hate Orson Scott Card. I would much prefer to like him, and I would, if he didn't hold such hateful and anti-American political and religious views."

Hear, hear. It's hard to take seriously the views of anyone as asshatted as OSC is about, say, homosexuality.

But, more to the point, he's not that great a writer, or rather, a writer who allows his religion to provide the hard answers for him, which ends up making him not the great a SF writer. I remember reading one post-apocalyptic story by him set first in NC, where the solution to post-apocalyptic society was Mormonism. Eventually all of the characters went on a big walk out to Utah, which, or course, was the only place still functioning in the US. That isn't SF writing, it's religious polemic about he power of Mormon.
posted by OmieWise at 12:26 PM on January 20, 2006


Ok, this is the last one from me on this thread. Want more? Email me.

Translation: don't critique my defense of Mormonism because I'm not answering you either way la la la la
posted by Optimus Chyme at 12:27 PM on January 20, 2006


pickles--You're not making sense. How was the ACLU fighting the ID/fundie contingent in Dover, PA at all a distraction from the "bigger picture"? Hiring practices? Curriculum? This is the big picture--whether or not American kids are taught fact or fiction, whether or not they'll be capable of a college-level science and math curriculum, and whether or not (unfortunately, it's looking less and less likely) America will remain an important player in the world of science and tech during this century (I'm sure certain Americans will, of course, but will they actually want to stay here in the face of the growing anti-science, anti-intellectual voices of many Christians?).

If this was about Alito re: Dems wasting resources, I'd agree with you--but on this issue, I don't see the analogy.
posted by bardic at 12:27 PM on January 20, 2006


I was raised Catholic, and went to Catholic school. One day, we talked about Mormonism, and I happened to talk to my Grandfather about it soon after, who was raised Mormon (but was more of an atheist). I think he took a little bit of offense at the way I casually dismissed his family's religion as complete silliness, and he systematically went through all of Catholic doctrine, step by step, and explained to me how absurd it was.

I was already, at the age of 12, on the fence about religion. That conversation pushed me way over to the side of atheism.

My opinion or Mormonism is that it's completely absurd, but singling it out for ridicule while letting Christianity's absurd beliefs pass (Virgin birth? Resurrection? The Garden of Eden? Noah's Flood? come on!) simply because they have a patina of respectability due to age isn't really fair.

The only basis for judgement I can have for a religion is on the basis of their followers, and I can say that the devout Mormon's that I've interacted with have been some of the kindest, most generous, honest and trustworthy people I've ever met, at least on the surface. I wouldn't really want to party with them, though.
posted by empath at 12:28 PM on January 20, 2006


Ok, that really was going to be the last one, but I can't resist:

But I'll certainly laugh at any one who espouses world views that are based on non-falsifiable, irrational beliefs.
(I assume you meant "aren't" based on . . .)

Start laughing at this worldview, then.
posted by JekPorkins at 12:29 PM on January 20, 2006


Did anyone else notice how Card uses Gould's now-discredited "punctuated equilibrium" argument to undermine Darwinism?
posted by orthogonality at 12:31 PM on January 20, 2006


Start laughing at this worldview, then.

Oooooh, I've been served!
posted by bshort at 12:32 PM on January 20, 2006


Ok, this is the last one from me on this thread. Want more? Email me.

Translation: I won't be back -- not even to lurk -- so do yourselves a favor and save your hostility for someone who cares.
posted by rxrfrx at 12:35 PM on January 20, 2006


...since complex biochemical systems in advanced organisms could not have evolved through strict Darwinian evolution, the only possible explanation is that the system was designed and put into place deliberately.

Wow, a specious premise and a false dilemma in one sentence. This guy writes tight prose!

I used to take a grin-and-bear-it attitude toward Evangelical Christians. Now, in the midst of a global trainwreck wrought by their cruelty and stupidity, I can no longer hold that attitude. Evangelical Christians are destroying America, and must be put back in their place.
posted by squirrel at 12:35 PM on January 20, 2006


JekPorkins : "Start laughing at this worldview, then.
"posted by JekPorkins at 5:29 PM on January 20 [!]"


You have article 18, Jek. But people laughing at Mormon beliefs have article 19. It's a draw.
posted by nkyad at 12:40 PM on January 20, 2006


Somebody should really build a talk.origins site for religon as a whole.
posted by bshort at 12:41 PM on January 20, 2006


Start laughing at this worldview, then.

"recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world"

That belief is both falsifiable and rational.

"disregard and contempt for human rights have resulted in barbarous acts which have outraged the conscience of mankind, and the advent of a world in which human beings shall enjoy freedom of speech and belief and freedom from fear and want has been proclaimed as the highest aspiration of the common people"

So is that one.

"it is essential, if man is not to be compelled to have recourse, as a last resort, to rebellion against tyranny and oppression, that human rights should be protected by the rule of law"

That too. All of the preamble is. So what are you talking about?
posted by Optimus Chyme at 12:42 PM on January 20, 2006


"Evangelical Christians are destroying America, and must be put back in their place."

Yes, please.
posted by y6y6y6 at 12:42 PM on January 20, 2006



John Kessel does a fine dissection of Ender's Game's rather rickety ethical apparatus here.

How do I hate thee, Orson Scott Card? Let me count the ways. And it's not 'cause he's a Mormon. I can think of plenty of perfectly wonderful Mormon writers and scholars whose work is thoughtful, interesting, and useful. His faith isn't what makes him a yappy, intellectually dishonest hatemonger. He's a yappy, intellectually dishonest hatemonger because that's what he wants to be.
posted by palmcorder_yajna at 12:43 PM on January 20, 2006


bardic, I rarely make sense. That said, I believe that by arguing against ID, and arguing so vehemently you (not you in particular I hasten to add) give it more... not respectability per se... more credibility. They're lining up to shout at those that are borderline about the religion in schools issue, telling them, "Look how scared they are of our arguments against evolution. Maybe we're on to something."

To me, ID is largely irrevelant. Focus on giving a kid a good education, and they'll grow up being able to know the difference between shit and shinola. That's why I think that any resources put into the fight against ID are wasted. The religious right know this and they're exploiting it. There aren't infinite resources to fight them, so priorities need to be established. In that sort of environment, fringe debates about evolution, largely misunderstood by many, are a waste.

Keep religion out of schools, teach kids good science, and they'll be able to see for themselves that ID is a fool's game.
posted by mad judge pickles at 12:47 PM on January 20, 2006


John Kessel does a fine dissection of Ender's Game's rather rickety ethical apparatus here.

Wow. It's like he's channelling my exact thoughts about that book.
posted by empath at 12:51 PM on January 20, 2006


I do, however, implore mefites to lay off attacking what they perceive to be the religious beliefs of others.

Yeah, good luck with that. Seriously: why should we? Why should people lay off attacking beliefs they find absurd, damaging or dangerous? Because it makes you happier? Or some other, more logical reason? Free speech, man. That means you get offended sometimes. Dear oh dear. Calamity.
posted by Decani at 12:53 PM on January 20, 2006


It's depressing that such a fine science fiction writer has absolutely no grasp of science.

I rather think this is built into the job description. SciFi often works by ignoring certain facts about the natural world, in order to gloss over how the the premise of the story is implausible. In order to enjoy this genre, you have be either ignorant or able to suspend your disbelief. I wouldn't be surprised to learn that powerful science fiction is more often connected with wackjob nutty authors than authors steeped in Enlightenment-style secular humanism. L. Ron Hubbard, anyone?

Incidentally, I think ID would be more at home in a histoy of science course than religious studies.

peter sellers is a douchebag?
posted by mowglisambo at 12:55 PM on January 20, 2006


Seriously: why should we?

Because religious beliefs are, by definition, indefensible in an argument, and therefore require special protection. Like babies.
posted by rxrfrx at 12:58 PM on January 20, 2006


pickles-- you write: Keep religion out of schools, teach kids good science, and they'll be able to see for themselves that ID is a fool's game.

Please read that again. None of those things will happen by accident. The whole point of the Dover, PA debate and victory is that competing theories are inseperable from daily practices in schools. What you're proposing is just as bad as what the fundies are, if not worse.
posted by bardic at 1:01 PM on January 20, 2006


One concern I have about the ID argument is a general one: if God has intervened in evolutionary processes in the past, what was His mechanism for doing so? Did God simply will that certain changes take place? Did He have to intervene physically to modify genes or the environment? Did He use proxies (angels)? And if the answer to any of the above questions is yes, then what evidence of any sort is there for these supposed interventions? If they happened, they left no trace.

Over the past 500 years we have gone from believing that God and his proxies were a consistent and active part of the mechanisms of the universe to understanding that they are not, in part because we can find no evidence of their involvement, let alone any evidence of their involvement which reflects any known religious teaching. This is why The Enlightenment happened.
posted by tranquileye at 1:04 PM on January 20, 2006


y6y6y6: ... As a Mormon he has a rather large theological context which compels him to be a douchebag. ...
Priceless!
posted by lodurr at 1:05 PM on January 20, 2006


Here's another question for the IDers out there.

Ok, so what predictions does Intelligent Design make? And, what are some examples of how those predictions could be both confirmed and disproved?
posted by bshort at 1:07 PM on January 20, 2006


It would be impossible to believe that the entire series of steps in the complex system could randomly appear all at once. But any one step along the way, since it does nothing by itself, could not give the organism that had it any competitive advantage.

Bzzzzt. Sorry, try again.
posted by deadfather at 1:07 PM on January 20, 2006


SciFi often works by ignoring certain facts about the natural world, in order to gloss over how the the premise of the story is implausible.

That's not unique to science fiction. At the center of any kind of fiction is something like this MC Escher drawing. There is always going to be a hole that people need to suspend their disbelief over. You can make it as big or as small as you like, but it will always have to be there.
posted by empath at 1:17 PM on January 20, 2006


empath: Personally, I don't think OSC is a particularly fine science fiction writer. Ender's Game was only average at best. The only thing it had going for it was that it shamelessly exploited some of the worst impulses of bright, picked-on children.
You pretty much nail how I felt about it. For me, it was a lot like watching Andromeda at 6pm on a Saturday evening: It could be amusing if I had nothing better to do while I ate dinner, but afterward I was often left with a strange sense that soemthing wasn't right.

OSC seems to me to be arrested at a very adolsecent stage of development. He seems fascinated by dominance struggles and seems to feel a need to express primacy. His essay from last year about how gay marriage would result in the fall of civilization was an amazing bit of histrionic hyperbole. And in his essays I often get the feeling he thinks he's doing us a favor by explainign his arguments. We ought to just believe him.

All impressions, of course, but...

I can't say that I know of anyone working right now that I regard as "particularly fine", but that's probably more a reflection of not being up on the field. The newest SF I've read whas when I bought copies of Analog and F&SF about two years ago; I seem to do that about every two years.
posted by lodurr at 1:17 PM on January 20, 2006


I have to say that I have been fascinated by this thread. What I thought was most interesting about Card's article was that, even though he personally believes in God, he was actually taking the position that ID is bad science because it makes claims that have no supporting evidence, and actually cannot by definition be proven. What I find fascinating about this thread is that so many of the contributors have failed to grasp the major point of his article mainly because of their dislike for part or all of his beliefs about other issues (and also the failure to actually read it).

In addition, it is always surprising to me how the very rational atheists that are present in this community always devolve to name calling whenever any issue related to religion comes up. We get it, you are much smarter than us crazy people who believe in God. You are able to rationally compare points of interest in science (such as the factual accuracy of Card's statements about the problems with evolutionary theory's explanation of complex biochemical mechanisms), but you then have to resort to attacks on the intelligence, and honesty of anyone who has a different belief structure. I am not saying that you do not have the right to question people's religious beliefs, I am just saying that the way most of the people here do so, is in many ways, as offensive as anything your opponents say.
posted by bove at 1:23 PM on January 20, 2006


Someone was trying to convince me about the validity of I.D. by pointing to some "study" that showed every person on Earth shares 99% DNA. I mean, I'm not geneticist, but I figured that was common knowledge and not some big "breakthrough" that needed a study - and somehow demonstrates the validity of "Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden" mythology. And this person had no answer when I said sure humans are the same species and we share 99% of our DNA . . . now explain the 98% we share with chimpanzees and other apes.
posted by sixdifferentways at 1:28 PM on January 20, 2006


There's a rather large logic error at the heart of the "impossible sequence of events" argument. I don't have a name for it, maybe someone else does. Perhaps it's really a species of "assuming the consequent."

The argument seems to be that because the chances are small of all required steps happening as they did, evolution is therefore false. That betrays a failure to understand both evolution and basic concepts of probability.

Let's say we're looking for a series of throws of a coin to come up heads. Let's say we wanted ten in a row. That's would be kind of amazing; the odds are against it.

Then let's say we were looking for sequence of ten throws to come up in a specific order. That would also be unlikely. It would actually be quite as unliekly as getting all the heads.

Yet each time we toss, the odds are 50:50 that the next toss will be one we want. What makes it unlikely is that we've got an order that we want -- 10 heads, or 10 specific results, doesn't matter. Where did we get that order from?

In the case of biochemistry, we get the "order of the tosses" from the order of the world as it now exists. But if we take a "designist" view, we have to ignore the fact that the "wrong throws" were discarded, and only the "right throws" remembered, as the throwing progressed. Not only did it never happen as a single chance event, it never happened as a single causal chain.

That's a frightening thought. It's got to be a bit like the moment when you first realize that your parents are fallible.

But we also have to forget some htings about how evolutionary theory says that evolution works. We have to also forget that what constitutes a "right throw" is defined by the throws that follow, not by the throw itself. That is, traits persist not because they are adaptive, but because they are not maladaptive.
posted by lodurr at 1:37 PM on January 20, 2006


The irony is that there are plenty of Darwinists who are perfectly good writers, capable of explaining the science to us well enough to show us the flaws in the Designists' arguments. The fact that they refuse even to try to explain is, again, a confession that they don't have an answer.

If Card refuses to look to see whether any "Darwinists" have in fact tried to explain the evidence for evolution, I don't know what can be done about that. In fact, many scientists do not just say, "well, you'll have to trust us because we know and you don't," but can and in fact have explained, sometimes in great detail, why the systems Behe alleges to be irreducibly complex are not so. If Card sticks his fingers in his ears and goes "LA LA LA I CAN'T HEAR YOU LA LA LA" when this is pointed out, I don't know how to argue against that.

[E]ven though he personally believes in God, he was actually taking the position that ID is bad science because it makes claims that have no supporting evidence, and actually cannot by definition be proven. What I find fascinating about this thread is that so many of the contributors have failed to grasp the major point of his article...

And it's such a significant point that he spends the first 75% of the article talking about the alleged problems with evolution, and only gets around to talking about the lack of scientific basis for ID in the final 25% or so. If that's his "major point," he has a strange way of showing it.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 1:41 PM on January 20, 2006


"his heart is most certainly in the right place"

But did it evolve like that, or was it designed?
posted by Auz at 1:42 PM on January 20, 2006


bove - good points, and the ad hominem attacks on Card are largely counterproductive. You're absolutely right that he comes out against ID in schools (well, mostly right) but the point is that he nonetheless makes a lot of the spurious arguments the ID people make.

I think the majority of people here respect the right of others to believe what they like. The problem arises when these beliefs bleed over into other domains, such as science. When this happens, attacking their factual errors are entirely appropriate - because the point is they don't know what they're talking about, and shouldn't pretend to. The fact is, Card clearly doesn't understand evolution, so he shouldn't make claims about what evolutionary theory can and cannot answer. This is also why most of us are against teaching ID in science class - not because we don't think people shouldn't be exposed to it, but because it isn't science.
posted by freebird at 1:43 PM on January 20, 2006


As a biologist, I'm dismayed to see Creationism re-arise as a pawn in the culture war, rather than a stimulating source of philosophical debate. I'm doubly dismayed to see rational people descend into personal attacks and broad stereotypes to defend the model of evolution; it's not what's needed and, worse yet, OSC has already called us on it on the first page of his essay:
"They instead behave like religious fanatics whose favorite dogmas are being challenged. That's why they answer their serious critics with name-calling, credentialism, expertism, sniping, politics, and misdirection, answering questions that have not been asked, using answers that have nothing to do with the real questions."
His understanding of how things work is pretty good. He brings up a good criticism with the idealised Intelligent Design argument:
"Their argument is that the Darwinian model is not a sufficient explanation.
...
The Designists challenge only the sufficiency of Darwin's model. The claim only that it does not seem adequate to explain systems that were completely unknown at the time he created his theory."
Unfortunately, this would be the ideal case, yet this is clearly not the only goal of most activists who call themselves supporters of ID.

OSC even brings up the best argument against ID:
"Here's the only correct answer to the Designists:
Yes, there are problems with the Darwinian model. But those problems are questions. "Intelligent design" is an answer, and you have no evidence at all for that."
And this is true, and moreover the important factor is that there is not way to test the ID hypothesis to prove it false or leave it as a possibility. Tellingly though, he lets this one sit.

The key point of his essay though, is his criticism of how some defenders of evolution are fighting:
"But the normal answer of the Darwinists is also a leap of faith. In effect, their arguments boil down to this: We have no idea right now how these complex systems came to be, but we have fervent, absolute faith that when we do figure it out, it will be found to have a completely mechanical, natural cause that requires no "intelligent designer" at all."
I think this is spot-on. Personally, the last thing I want to see is religion being introduced as real science in the classroom, yet I think most scientists would agree that there is no pausible way to take the "God hypothesis" off the board. Science works like this: we throw up a bunch of hypotheses and models that could fit our observations and engage in a round robin of shooting some down. Then we see if the remaining ones fit further observations we do, followed by more rounds of shooting down and observing.

There is literally no way to completely remove the "God hypothesis" as we simply lack the mechanisms to test it. Oh, you can push it back, and say that the literal seven day creation doesn't fit the data, but at a deep philosophical level you can't prove an omnipotent entity doesn't exist or exert influence on our universe. Unless God came down and said that it wasn't him, ha ha. But to say that God doesn't exist is actually an article of faith itself, as OSC states.

In light of all of this, his last argument is disingenuous:
"Physicists know this -- they don't get their dander up and demand that non-Einsteinian physics never be taught in the public schools, for instance. They recognize that at the bleeding edge of science we simply don't know stuff yet, and no past genius has authority today, if and when we come up with data that may not support his theories."
And it's a bad argument for two reasons:
-Physicists would probably be pissed off if you spent a lot of time in physics class talking about how God made it all possible.
-Biologists and all scientists freely accept that they don't understand every bit of how organisms came to be on this planet; the mystery is the reason why we bother to study the field.
posted by Mercaptan at 1:43 PM on January 20, 2006


As I read it he comes out for "teaching the controversy," despite suggesting that the claims of IDers is weak. He calls Darwinism a "faith." He paints a false picture of what the theory of evolution purports to explain (see highway/piston comment above) and rests his condemnation of the insistence of evolutionary scientists that ID introduces no controversy on that false picture.

I'm sorry, but his article is rhetorically dishonest and should be condemned as such. Reading it as a disagreement with ID is a misreading as he suggests that we should agree with ID aims (that is, biology teachers should explain to pupils that according to OSC's version of evolution, there are huge gaps in the theory).
posted by OmieWise at 1:47 PM on January 20, 2006


His version of Iron man sucks.
posted by Artw at 1:50 PM on January 20, 2006


... rehtoricaly dishonest ...

After thinking about this and reading palmcoder yajna's link, I'm thinking this is an important point: Card himself, even in his fiction, is rhetoricaly dishonest. He is not doing what he claims to be doing, either here or elsewhere.
posted by lodurr at 1:51 PM on January 20, 2006


freebird: Just like Card, I am also not an evolutionary biologist and cannot claim to fully understand the current state of evolutionary theory. Again, I have enjoyed the points here that do a good job of showing where and how Card is incorrect with his characterizations of the state of the field in evolutionary thinking. I have just not enjoyed all of the personal attacks against Card (although I was expecting them) and the more general attacks against religion (that I should have been expecting.

Mercaptan: well said.
posted by bove at 1:52 PM on January 20, 2006


His version of Iron man sucks.

But his versions of War Pigs and Paranoid totally make up for it.
posted by JekPorkins at 1:53 PM on January 20, 2006


I think this is spot-on. Personally, the last thing I want to see is religion being introduced as real science in the classroom, yet I think most scientists would agree that there is no pausible way to take the "God hypothesis" off the board.

Then you don't know what you're talking about. The difference between science and faith is that science is the process of making observations about the world, coming up with hypotheses that explain those observations, and then testing those predictions through experiment and observations.

Faith is completely divorced from the real world and any possiblity of rational explanation.

It's not that we need to disprove the existence of God. The burden isn't on us. It's on those that profess the belief in the first place. You can claim that your favorite superhero influenced creation all you want, but don't be surprised when people don't believe you when you can't come with any supporting evidence.
posted by bshort at 2:02 PM on January 20, 2006


It's always struck me as the extreme height of human arrogance to state that if something isn't know right now then it must be unknowable and therefore a clear proof of divine intervention.
posted by clevershark at 2:09 PM on January 20, 2006


"if something isn't known right now", that is.
posted by clevershark at 2:09 PM on January 20, 2006


bshort, mercaptan is right on this one. There is absolutely no way to prove that god did not create the universe in his own mysterious way. Obviously we can prove that he did not do it in the way that genesis claims etc. etc. But this is not really even important. What is key is this: Just because you can't prove that god didn't create the universe doesn't meant that you can't PROVE that people who claim he did are making it up. This sounds like it doesn't make sense but it really does when you think about it. Since people who claim that god created the universe can't prove it, have no evidence of it, and thus no reason to believe that he did... we can confidently decide that people who claim that he did have simply made it up. This is true and will remain true even if one day it is proven that god DID create the universe. Basically, you can be both correct and full of crap as long as it is understood that you have no way of knowing what you claim (and are correct about arbitrarily).
posted by Farengast at 2:13 PM on January 20, 2006


Mercaptan - I've made a similar argument about the value of presenting alternate hypotheses here before, and have given up. There were some good points made I hadn't considered, but by and large, the people on our team can be just as bigoted as on the ID team, and you're unlikely to get a reasoned discussion.

I do think it's interesting that a lot of us who actually work in science see things this way.

Faith is completely divorced from the real world and any possiblity of rational explanation.

That's a petitio principii fallacy, bshort - it's only true if you assume that faith can't explain the physical world, which is exactly the question being argued.
posted by freebird at 2:14 PM on January 20, 2006


“yet I think most scientists would agree that there is no pausible way to take the "God hypothesis" off the board” - Mercaptan

Occam’s razor. The universe as observed exists. Absent the need for an external or infininte chain of prime movers there is no reason to add one.

“to say that God doesn't exist is actually an article of faith itself” - Mercaptan

Depends on the definition of God. But as above - Occam’s razor.

“the mystery is the reason why we bother to study the field” - Mercaptan

...strike what I said. Apparently there is no point in reasoning with you.

/I am in no way an atheist. Quite the opposite in fact.
posted by Smedleyman at 2:15 PM on January 20, 2006


Farengast - So have I told you about the elephant that lives in my closet?

He's about 3 feet tall, 75 lbs. and pink.

He's a great elephant.

I'd show him to you, but he's invisible.
posted by bshort at 2:17 PM on January 20, 2006


Smedleyman, what do you believe? If I had to guess, based on what I've just read, it would be that you won't try to 'reason to God'. Is that close? (Just curious, here -- that seems to me to be a m.o.l. unassailable position, speaking as an Epicurean-tinged atheist.)
posted by lodurr at 2:19 PM on January 20, 2006


This time, he seems to be less reactionary and more thoughtful.

The weird thing about Card is that he's always thoughtful, he just starts at a very diffrent fundemental premise.
posted by delmoi at 2:21 PM on January 20, 2006


Then you don't know what you're talking about. The difference between science and faith is that science is the process of making observations about the world, coming up with hypotheses that explain those observations, and then testing those predictions through experiment and observations.
Alright, let me get more specific. Forget faith for a minute, say it doesn't exist. I can look at the sky, and pose a number of more or less plausible hypotheses for why it might be blue ranging from "the diffraction of sunlight as it passes through the atmosphere" to "my friend Eric painted the dome of the sky a nice blue color" to "God (or some other omnipotent entity) made it that way." I've got a lot of good evidence for the diffraction model and not a lot to refute it. That makes it a strong argument. Through the use of satellites and some estimates I can show that the dome and Eric hypothesis is pretty much false. But there isn't a damn thing I can do to disprove the God hypothesis. Oh sure, there's not much evidence for it, but I lack the philosophical basis to say that what I experience or attempt to measure isn't being manipulated by an omnipotent being. I simply lack the tools to disprove it.

No hypotheses (or theories) are true. There are simply models strengthened by evidence and not yet disproved.
posted by Mercaptan at 2:21 PM on January 20, 2006


That's a petitio principii fallacy, bshort - it's only true if you assume that faith can't explain the physical world, which is exactly the question being argued.

You know, you can just say "begging the question."

Ok, how about this definition: "Belief that does not rest on logical proof or material evidence. "

How does that one work for you?
posted by bshort at 2:22 PM on January 20, 2006


bshort, you are making my point here. Assuming that your closet is "unopenable" there is no way to prove that the elephant isn't there. But by that SAME logic, I can still claim with absolute validity that you made the elephant up. Since your closet is unopenable, you have no reason ever to have believed that the elephant was there. So disproving isn't the ultimate goal for declaring something fantasy, simply showing that the fantacizer has no reason to have ever believed the fantasy. Think about it, I am AGREEING with your position, just simply pointing you to the logic which actually supports your position instead of a notion that god creating the universe has or can ever be disproven. I am an atheist and a physicist for that matter, and I claim soundly that people who think god created the universe made this up. But I believe this for the reasons I have stated. NOT because I can prove they are wrong, but because I can prove that have no reason to believe that they are right. Think about it.
posted by Farengast at 2:23 PM on January 20, 2006


“the mystery is the reason why we bother to study the field” - Mercaptan

...strike what I said. Apparently there is no point in reasoning with you.


WTF? That's a pretty common and valid position for people in science to take. Most of us would do something else if there was no mystery involved. Why does this imply a lack of rationality to you?

You know, you can just say "begging the question."
You can't actually. Common usage for that phrase means something quite different.
posted by freebird at 2:25 PM on January 20, 2006


Smedleyman: Then it's bloody ironic that I am pretty damn atheistic.

Occam's razor is fine, but it's not a law. It helps us choose what is plausible and is useful because it works in most cases. Judging by the universe it is plausible to hypothesize that God doesn't exist, but you can't prove it doesn't exist.

And yeah, I study biology because there are a lot of things we don't understand. If we understood it all, it wouldn't be interesting.
posted by Mercaptan at 2:35 PM on January 20, 2006


I tried to warn you Mercaptan - there's just no arguing with these Fundamentalists! :)
posted by freebird at 2:40 PM on January 20, 2006


So, no derail intended, but what's with the assertions that there's no evidence of God's existence? I'd agree that there's no conclusive evidence of God's existence, or that there's no scientifically usable evidence of God's existence, or even that there's no "good" evidence (though that's admittedly a normative judgment). And pardon me if I don't understand scientific analysis as well as I should, but don't firsthand accounds of observations of something count as evidence - even as weak evidence?

I mean, science accepts witness statements as evidence in other things. Why not here? Again, I'll grant you that the evidence for God's existence is not scientifically conclusive or compelling, but it is evidence, right?
posted by JekPorkins at 2:48 PM on January 20, 2006


"there is no plausible way to take the "God hypothesis" off the board"

Yes. There is.

The "God hypothesis" should not be on the board in the first place due to it's non-disprovable nature. If we allow the God hypothesis, then we might as well include the theory that I, y6y6y6, created the universe, or that we're in an wildly complex video game where we're programmatically prevented from seeing the truth, or that you suffer from some sort of insanity that's causing you to imagine all this.

In other words the "God hypothesis" is really part of a set of musings which are logically distinct from what we commonly consider to be a scientific hypothesis. Since the possibility of proof is inherently removed from this class of musings, it makes no sense to place them on the board.

This board is for apples. Please don't put oranges on it.

Further, it is much too forced to ask us to only include the God hypothesis but to exclude other flotsam such as Time Cube, certain scripts for "Seinfeld", Norse mythology, etc.
posted by y6y6y6 at 2:54 PM on January 20, 2006


don't firsthand accounds of observations of something count as evidence?

Fair point Jek, but the problem is that there are some restrictions on what we consider "evidence". Repeatability is a big one - you can say you saw God all you want, and thousands more along with you. But if you can't desccribe to me the conditions under which it occured and how you achieved your data, and I can't do the same thing and achieve the same results, it's not really scientific data.

As far as I know, seeing God is not "repeatable" in that sense. Now, there *are* repeatable ways to "see God", but I'm pretty sure they're not really what we're talking about...

OP: good point y6^3. "Falsifiability" is an important criterion, and not one generally satisfied by religious hypothesis. Interesting to consider what the "falsification condition" would be for evolution, though...
posted by freebird at 2:58 PM on January 20, 2006


"but don't firsthand accounts of observations of something count as evidence"

Sure. And we get to weigh them with the rules we'd weigh other "science".

So let's have it. Please present your first hand accounts and we'll analyze them using the rules of science.

You see where this is going of course. One person's divinely inspired piece of toast is another person's plausible and random thermodynamic fluctuation.
posted by y6y6y6 at 3:03 PM on January 20, 2006


I'd like to try to sum up Card's argument here, both to make sure that I understand it (I worry that I've distorted it for the sake of reading it charitably) and to make sure that some others in this thread do (it looks very much like people have pushed it into an ideological template that it really doesn't fit). So here goes:
* Michael Behe offers good examples of things in biochemistry that the current understanding of evolution fails to explain.
* People's responses to his arguments miss the point, and seem to be grounded more in faith than in science.
* However, the theory of Intelligent Design is inherently unscientific--faith masquerading as science.
* Current evolutionary theory is good science, and should be taught in schools.
* However, like other theories (such as Relativity), it also has problems explaining some facts, and schools should discuss this in their curriculums, rather than treating it like revealed truth.

He doesn't seem particularly friendly towards ID, except in two ways: (1) he believes that ID's criticisms of evolution through natural selection are legitimate, and (2) like the IDers, he believe's that the universe exist's according to the will of God, though he doesn't necessarily agree with them about the mechanical implications of this.

There's still plenty to criticise in what he says, though. In particular, he's so confident in his own understanding of the situation that he never really considers the possibility that biologists can and do offer real answer's to Behe's arguments. He acts as though pointing out holes in a theory proves that the theory must be incomplete; in truth, it may just mean that you don't understand the full implications of the theory. The impression I have, from my own reading and from conversation with people who study biology, is that Behe and the other IDers are criticised not just out of a knee-jerk faith in Darwinism, but because their objections have already been answered long ago.

But, at the very least, he demonstrates a real rhetorical failure on the part of people arguing against ID. Too often, arguments against ID end up looking like this thread, where a handful of good arguments are drowned out by mountains of ridicule and trivial misunderstanding.

Most people who believe in ID, or even outright creationism, are still perfectly intelligent human beings, who have been led by their circumstances to some unscientific--and simply incorrect--beliefs. We owe them the most basic form of respect: a real argument.
posted by moss at 3:07 PM on January 20, 2006


nice, Moss.
posted by freebird at 3:10 PM on January 20, 2006


I don't know about Orson anymore. I really liked him as the lovable pig on Garfield and Friends though.
posted by my sock puppet account at 3:11 PM on January 20, 2006


Freebird got to it first. But to agree with him, as far as scientific evidence goes, eye witness accounts can not possibly be scientific evidence because they cannot be repeated. Just as freebird says. The accounts themselves are not testable. These accounts are good enough for legal matters usually, but that's because legal matters cannot possibly adhere to scientific standards and still function. You aren't trying to prove that Mr. Green did it in the billiards room with the candle stick everytime you play a game of clue, just that he did it this one time. And eye witness accounts satisfy this lesser burden of proof much more adequately than they do for the kind of physical phenomena which work the same way all the time everytime.
posted by Farengast at 3:12 PM on January 20, 2006


Sure. And we get to weigh them with the rules we'd weigh other "science".

So you agree with me then, that there is evidence. Thanks!

I'm not sure how you'd scientifically weigh the testimony of witnesses such as the popes, and the folks who recorded their observations in writings like Torah and the New Testament. That's why I say that it's not scientifically useful evidence, but it's evidence nonetheless.

But I'm curious. How would you scientifically weigh the firsthand account of Moses that he talked to God and saw God engrave the Ten Commandments with his finger? Is there a way to scientifically decide that he was lying without first assuming that God doesn't exist?

And if eyewitness accounts don't count in science, why do the observations of the scientists running experiments count?
posted by JekPorkins at 3:14 PM on January 20, 2006


"Interesting to consider what the "falsification condition" would be for evolution, though..."

Seems rather obvious. All we need is a species completely out of evolutionary context. If a farmer wakes up tomorrow and notices that his cows are giving birth to creatures with metal tentacles that breath nitrogen and speak perfect French, we know evolution didn't create them. This is an extreme example, but it would take something much less dramatic to disprove evolution as the process which created all current species.

For example - If it appeared humans had come into existence suddenly, as described by the Bible, rather than the evolutionary process we see in the fossil record, we would have no choice but to throw the theory of evolution in the crapper.
posted by y6y6y6 at 3:16 PM on January 20, 2006


And if eyewitness accounts don't count in science, why do the observations of the scientists running experiments count?

Because they laid out a clear process by which they got those observations, allowing anybody to do the same. Then somebody else did, and got the same results.

Until anybody can repeat Moses' experiment, seeing god remains outside science.
posted by InfidelZombie at 3:27 PM on January 20, 2006


y6y6y6, don't forget that the fossil record is like bonus as far as evolution evidence goes. Evolution would be just as solid factually if no fossils existed (though certainly it would have taken longer to get rolling) just from genetic evidence. We learn WAY more about evolution through gene comparisons and tracing than we ever could from fossils. They certainly help for learning about things like dinosaurs, but we don't need them to know that dinosaurs existed, we need only study avian and reptilian DNA to learn this. So next time a creationist comes at you about gaps in the fossil record, don't forget to remind them that the ENTIRE fossil record could be one huge gap and evolution would still be the unavoidable conclusion.
posted by Farengast at 3:29 PM on January 20, 2006


Until anybody can repeat Moses' experiment, seeing god remains outside science.

Lots of people claim that they have repeated Moses' experiment.
posted by JekPorkins at 3:33 PM on January 20, 2006


Lots of people claim that they have repeated Moses' experiment.

Yeah, but their data analysis methods are pretty weak to say the least.... :)
posted by Farengast at 3:45 PM on January 20, 2006


"Lots of people claim that they have repeated Moses' experiment."

No, lots of people claim to have seen gods. A repeatable, controlled experiment which anyone can perform which will lead to the same results has yet to be created or conducted.
posted by kyrademon at 3:54 PM on January 20, 2006


Jek Porkins wrote: And if eyewitness accounts don't count in science, why do the observations of the scientists running experiments count?

Actually, this isn't how a lot of science works today, especially in physics and microbiology. The observations are made by machines and computers--it's a bit sticky actually, since "empirical" literally means observing things first-hand. Examining DNA first-hand isn't possible given human limitations. Hardly an epistemological crisis, but kind of interesting to note.

But InfidelZombie said it better than me. Sure, people believe in strange anthropomorphic sky-god-daddies. In terms of psychological health, this is probably good for them--keeps them out of trouble, convinces them murder is bad, etc. But keep it away from science teachers, doctors, NASA technicians, etc. What's worse, don't legislate them out of jobs because their findings don't jibe with your politics. Does this mean I'm paranoid about the long-term goals of the religious right in the US? Hell yes. As I was under Reagan as a wee lad. It's just that now, crackpots are funded to put a veneer of pseudo-science over their bullshit and their agenda.

I'd love to have a thorough discussion on mefi of William James' work, starting with Pragmatism alongside Varieties of Religious Experience. I'm an atheist that tends to be overly hostile to theists, but only because they want their mythology imposed on my kids and their future fellow citizens, i.e., their classmates. Plenty of scientists are believers (to wit, some of my relatives), but for the most part good scientists have the decency to keep these two important but very differerent and irreconcilable spheres separated. If I offend any believers sorry--but you probably shouldn't waste your time with me anyways. I can assure you that as long as you keep it out of my life and the lives of my friends and family, worship whatever idols and demi-urges you please.

As for Card, once again, attacks on "credentialism" and "expertism" are hilarious, and a stunning admission of being a mental midget. I think we need more Japanese pop-stars writing books about astro-physics, just because. And Marilyn Manson can be invited to conduct the Mormom Tabernacle Choir while we're at it.
posted by bardic at 3:57 PM on January 20, 2006


"So next time a creationist comes at you about gaps in the fossil record, don't forget to remind them that the ENTIRE fossil record could be one huge gap and evolution would still be the unavoidable conclusion."

Sorry. I sort of assume creationists are incapable of accepting things like that. Seriously. You need to have a stack of Legos or something.

"You see, once this stack of Legos was just a pile of random pieces. And we know of no way for those random pieces to suddenly form this block. But, once we allow a process of evolution......."

I'm just bored. When a creationist comes at me my solution is to be as dismissive as they are. Fine, your invisible friend created the universe. Good for you. Even entering into the debate is pointless. Unless you're bored of course.
posted by y6y6y6 at 3:57 PM on January 20, 2006


A repeatable, controlled experiment which anyone can perform which will lead to the same results has yet to be created or conducted.

I wonder how many things you firmly believe in that you've actually subjected to the scientific method before believing.
posted by JekPorkins at 4:01 PM on January 20, 2006


All we need is a species completely out of evolutionary context. If a farmer wakes up tomorrow and notices that his cows are giving birth to creatures with metal tentacles

Mmm, nope.

That's an exception. A falsification condition describes an experimental procedure, which if followed gives rise to a specified outcome that falsifies the theory in question. If you drop a rock off a ladder and it flies up (in the absence of other forces, etc), you've falsified gravitation. These are important parts of any theory - there are extant experimtal results, which if obtained, would invalidate relativity. This is *part* of building relativity as a theory.

So it would have to be something like "subject a specified population to a specified selection pressure and obtain the following genetic change" or something.

Don't know - I was hoping for an answer from one of the real biologists. I'm obviously (I hope) on the evolution side of things, but I'm genuinely curious about how this is handled.
posted by freebird at 4:06 PM on January 20, 2006


“Judging by the universe it is plausible to hypothesize that God doesn't exist, but you can't prove it doesn't exist.” -posted by Mercaptan

That is ironic that you’re an atheist.

I don’t have to prove it doesn’t exist. For several reasons (some outlined by y6y6y6) The least of which is I don’t need to define God by your terms. Why should I commit any resources - brainwork or otherwise - to proving the absence of something you subjectively define (by definition based on ‘faith’)?
On the other hand - there are many valid reasons why I should commit resources treat people who have delusions of one type or another.

That I cannot prove whether the “pink elephant” does or does not in fact exist is irrelevent. I can prove the delusion exists. Enbd of story.

Or if you enjoy the wordplay - you can’t prove that the time traveling God-killing terminator hasn’t traveled back in time and eradicated the possiblity of God.



“Smedleyman, what do you believe?” - posted by lodurr

Insofar as “God”? I don’t really “believe.”

I find some Spinozan arguments to be solid and Zen and philosophical Taoism excellent metaphysics. So: God is one with the universe. God is the universe. God is the laws of nature, as well as intelligence and will. That is - he is one with them as opposed to he guides them or he responds to them.
Words are misleading however. Even saying ‘he’ - is cumbersome. It’s not something apart. Like saying the universe is the universe. Well, duh.

But in matters like this I think OSC’s time would be better spent exploring ontology rather than criticizing empiricism.

Huxley does a good job in the Perennial Philosophy of explaining the transcendent nature of ontology and how a variety of cultures and thinkers have approached it.

In contrast Heraclitus focused on the knowable portion of (”God”, Tao, what-have- you) and that change was the essence of nature.

Change to me is where the empirical rubber hits the ontological road.

Given some of the ideas in quantum mechanics we could almost say change is the fundamental (or only) nature of nature.
Virtual particles (or vacuum fluctuations) and all that - consisting of just change. Probability distributions, not assigning definite values to observables.
Quantum entanglement lends itself well to the ideas of monism.
But I think it’s the non-deterministic thing that appeals to me.

What we can observe is the deterministic universe. What we can’t see - is the underlying nature - a non-deterministic microverse governed by probabilities.

Change over time is the will of God, or the ground of all being, or whatever you like. And that change definitely exists. And we exist. And all things do. And there - in that change - is a universal connection.

Solomon’s ring says “This too shall pass.” Apt.

Having an invisible man in the clouds to have the will to make that happen seems fairly mechanistic to me. It’s unnecessary. But humans have been doing it for a long time in a variety of ways.

The reason for that is I think we try to put ontological experience into empirical terms.

Which is where we seem to get held up. Also some things get pretty bizarre when our brains try to translate it.
(I remember reading some wild God-related experiences with agigantic, pulsating ball of leafy green plants suspended in space and voice like Leonard Nimoy here on mefi)

Firsthand accounts of sighting God or speaking with God might be perfectly true and I indeed accept them as valid experiances in some cases existentially revealing -but they cannot be taken as empirical truth. Just as the probablility cloud in QM is a metaphor for a reality we know but can’t see - so too is whatever flying spaghetti monster du jour.

However fantastically useful a metaphor any experiance is - doesn’t mean that we should keep that - circuit - for lack of a better word, on while we, say, drive through traffic.

So I tend to keep my empirical mind out of it as a matter of practice, cause it gets in the way.
...if that’s any kind of answer.
(Zen practitioners seem to have come to the same conclusions. Buddha often warned about clinging to the metaphors that your own brain feeds you.)

I think “belief” or “faith” describes that clinging. Exposing that doesn’t invalidate the usefulness of the metaphor, but the usefulness of it often gets overwhelmed if we take it too literally.

But again, words can be very deceptive in these matters.
posted by Smedleyman at 4:08 PM on January 20, 2006


“why do the observations of the scientists running experiments count?’

*Flags Heisenburg*
posted by Smedleyman at 4:14 PM on January 20, 2006


Thanks, interesting answer.
posted by lodurr at 4:16 PM on January 20, 2006


Smedleyman, you're my new hero. Outstanding post.
posted by JekPorkins at 4:19 PM on January 20, 2006


"I wonder how many things you firmly believe in that you've actually subjected to the scientific method before believing."

I actually firmly believe very little. But that's irrelevant, and you entirely miss the point. It's not that everyone *must do* these experiments for themselves, it's that anyone *can*. Anyone can do the same thing and get the same results, every time.

If you think, say, visions of a god to one who has never experienced them fall into the same category, then you are mistaken. Many people do not report getting that same effect (if that can be termed an experiment at all, which it can't, because there is no procedure to be followed). Everyone who performs a valid experiment does. You see the difference?

I oversimplify, of course, but really, they're just not the same thing.
posted by kyrademon at 4:21 PM on January 20, 2006


If you think, say, visions of a god to one who has never experienced them fall into the same category, then you are mistaken.

I don't. I didn't say they're scientifically valid proofs. I said they're evidence, and they are.

because there is no procedure to be followed

But in the case of most religions, there is a procedure to be followed. In the new testament version, the procedure is to ask god, with faith. It's a pretty straightforward procedure. The problem with it is that every individual researcher must perform the experiment herself in order to know whether to believe the others who claim that it works.

But again, I haven't said that visions are the same thing as scientific theories. I said they're extremely weak evidence. And they are.
posted by JekPorkins at 4:28 PM on January 20, 2006


Darwin : Social Darwinism :: Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle : "Science is all fuckin' subjective!"
posted by bardic at 4:28 PM on January 20, 2006


But in the case of most religions, there is a procedure to be followed.

Exactly. And even if you follow it precisely, there will be many researchers who experience no divinity. Therefore, it is not evidence of divinity because it's not repeatable. I think we covered this already.

bardic: Hah!
posted by freebird at 4:32 PM on January 20, 2006


And even if you follow it precisely, there will be many researchers who experience no divinity.

Oh, really? How can you say that categorically? Furthermore, when you have an experiment that works sometimes, but doesn't work other times, do you just ditch it, or should you maybe continue to dig deeper to figure out whether or not you're actually performing the procedure right, etc?
posted by JekPorkins at 4:35 PM on January 20, 2006


Lots of people claim that they have repeated Moses' experiment.

Is this the best you can do? Are you so unfamiliar with the basics of the scientific method?

That's why I say that it's not scientifically useful evidence, but it's evidence nonetheless.

This doesn't have much to do with science but your definition of evidence is pretty weak. Indirect knowledge--that is knowledge of the world we obtain through communication instead of observation--must be consistent against direct knowledge. This is why we can say the Bible is not factually true. The Bible offers a world that is demonstrably inconsistent with what we do know about the world. Thus there are parts of the Bible that we know to be false. At this point it's reasonable to assume that the entire text is not in fact the word of God and is just a story.

It is this very tension that gives rise to fundamentalism and the insistence that the entire text be true. Fortunately
posted by nixerman at 4:35 PM on January 20, 2006


nixerman, when you say that the bible is not "the word of God", what do you mean?

I don't know of anyone who thinks that God wrote the bible. Surely you don't think that people believe that God wrote the bible, do you?

Ultimately, I don't think you're actually reading the thread closely, and that's why you're being flippant and insulting about my statements. Oh well. I apologize.
posted by JekPorkins at 4:38 PM on January 20, 2006


How can you say that categorically?

Because lots of people have already tried the procedure and not found God. I'm not making a categoric generalization, I'm talking about history and established experience. OK, the next step is to say "well, they didn't really *believe*, so it wasn't a valid experiment". Am I right? Look, you had a valid question about why a common experience wasn't considered evidence. The question has been answered.

**sighs heavily, hopes someone will want to talk about the falsification criterion for evolutionary theory, and gets on with other things**
posted by freebird at 4:45 PM on January 20, 2006


Smedleyman, that was a great post. Well said.
posted by Meredith at 4:48 PM on January 20, 2006


JekPorkins writes: I don't know of anyone who thinks that God wrote the bible. Surely you don't think that people believe that God wrote the bible, do you?

Hey dude. Moses called. He says you should stay indoors during the next few storms.

More seriously, there are scientists who are theists, no doubt. Good scientists understand that the search for scientific truth and for understanding questions of faith are inherently different activities.

To turn this around, I'd offer my own subjective experience: I've read many religious texts in their entirety (in translation to English, which I realize makes a difference, esp. with regards to the Koran). I've been to many different worship services at many different churches and synagogues, partly out of anthropological interest, partly out of a firm desire to experience divinity (William James called it the "will to believe"). And enlightenment didn't happen. So yeah, what freebird said.
posted by bardic at 4:50 PM on January 20, 2006


I don't know of anyone who thinks that God wrote the bible. Surely you don't think that people believe that God wrote the bible, do you?

I know lots and lots and lots of people that think that God wrote the Bible. When you ask them "Who wrote the Bible?" They'll say, "God."

Just because you're not completely deluded doesn't mean other people aren't.
posted by bshort at 5:03 PM on January 20, 2006


An observation by the most eminent of scientists is worth no more than is Moses' experience. Personal observations are automatically untrustworthy.

The entire POINT of science is to try to correct for subjective error. We all have biases and prejudices. Science is designed to work around them, as much as possible. It's not perfect, particularly in the 'softer' sciences, but over time it has done a pretty phenomenal job. (consider just exactly what you're doing right now, and just how far you have come from the peasantry in the Dark Ages.)

Science isn't, as many people think, based purely on logic. Logic can be just as misleading as any other act of thought. It's based on evidence.

In the case of evolution, there is an unbelievable amount of it. Every scientific field that deals with the natural world can see evidence of evolution, from the geologists to the archaelogists to the biologists. There is an overwhelming body of evidence supporting it. There is NO evidence that disproves it. A huge chorus of voices is clamoring from all sides, backed by very solid evidence, saying "this is true, this is the way things happened. Creatures evolve."

And yet, instead, some folks want us to believe the thin, shrill voice of just one book, with no outside supporting evidence, and no ability to predict outcomes.
posted by Malor at 5:06 PM on January 20, 2006


We should also recognise the equal validity of the views expressed by those who wear tin-foil hats.
posted by Artw at 5:08 PM on January 20, 2006


the thin, shrill voice of just one book, with no outside supporting evidence, and no ability to predict outcomes.

I'm very sad to have to post this: The Bible does not, even if taken literally (which would be silly) contradict evolution. Period.
posted by JekPorkins at 5:13 PM on January 20, 2006


Be careful with that insistance on predicting outcomes, Malor. A lot of sciences are only now edging from the descriptive to the predictive.

And I have to differ - there is really very little direct evidence of evolution as a mechanism. There is evidence of *change*. But there is much less direct evidence of selection pressure and statistical evolution as the *mechanism* of that change.

The Bible does not, even if taken literally (which would be silly) contradict evolution.

Um, I guess you don't count that whole "Genesis" thing at the beginning? You know, the one where God creates the world in seven days, and all the creatures in their present forms?
posted by freebird at 5:15 PM on January 20, 2006


Somebody juxtaposed "powerful science fiction" and "L. Ron Hubbard."

That they could do that and survive long enough to click Post is proof there is no God.




YMMV.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 5:25 PM on January 20, 2006


freebird: It doesn't say that he created them from whole cloth in their present forms, and it doesn't specify the processes used to get them to those forms, nor does it indicate what it means by "day."

Genesis is simply not specific enough to contradict evolution, and since it doesn't define its own terms, the "7 days" part is literally impossible to interpret (if the earth doesn't exist, then how do you decide how long a day is?).

Hell, it doesn't even define the term "Earth," which could refer literally to the ground, and not the entire planet, or to a specific geographical area. After all, it literally refers to god looking over the "waters" before he created the earth.

The people who are up in arms about evolution are not only unfamiliar with science, they're unfamiliar with the book that they think is justifiably canonized. Don't buy into their hype: Their book doesn't say what they think it does.

End of derail: To wrap up, I think Orson Scott Card is a giant doofus who wrote some ok science fiction long ago, and apparently doesn't entirely understand the I.D./Evolution hubbub.
posted by JekPorkins at 5:29 PM on January 20, 2006


Malor: An observation by the most eminent of scientists is worth no more than is Moses' experience. Personal observations are automatically untrustworthy.
Personal observations may well be untrustoworthy, but I'll take the observations of a flesh-and-blood human over te reported observations of a legendary culture-hero any day of the week.
posted by lodurr at 5:35 PM on January 20, 2006


JekPorkins - Sorry man, you need to reread your bible. There is specific mention of seed-bearing plants and of winged birds. Both these as initial phenotypes are in direct contradiction of any evolutionary view of the history of life on this planet. I won't even get into the part where Big Daddy creates humans.

I may take genesis more seriously as a beautiful piece of poetry than you do as revealed truth. You should totally read it.
posted by freebird at 5:37 PM on January 20, 2006


Assuming that your closet is "unopenable" there is no way to prove that the elephant isn't there.
Did Schroedinger get bored with cats? :)
posted by kaemaril at 5:40 PM on January 20, 2006


Freebird:
1: I don't think Genesis is a literal account.
2: You need to reread: It does not say that seed-bearing plants, winged birds or anything else was created from whole cloth, nor does it say how they were created.
3: I totally have read it many times. But I read it closely, and didn't assume that it says things that it doesn't. You seem to be reading it as saying "and god created birds out of thin air." It doesn't say that.

The point, though, is that neither side of the I.D./Evolution "debate" understands the other side's point, and the I.D. side doesn't even understand it's own point (if it really has one).

and lodurr, I suspect you'd take Einstein's reported observations over Tom Cruise's observations any day of the week, actually. So would I.
posted by JekPorkins at 5:45 PM on January 20, 2006


Aren't viruses and bacteria proof that the process of evolution occurs? They change or adapt to survive onslaughts of drugs and antibodies.
posted by juiceCake at 5:55 PM on January 20, 2006


1: I don't think Genesis is a literal account.

My mistake. I thought when you said "The Bible does not, even if taken literally (which would be silly) contradict evolution." you meant that even if you took it literally, which would be silly, it didn't contradict evolution.

It does not say that seed-bearing plants, winged birds or anything else was created from whole cloth

Hmm. I guess I should reread it, because I thought it went something like "So God created the great creatures of the sea and every living and moving thing with which the water teems, according to their kinds, and every winged bird according to its kind." My mistake, I guess.

OK, I'm being a little harsh. But it's friday, I'm tipsy at work so I can't drive home, and I'm grumpy I didn't follow my own advice upthread about not arguing these silly points. Of course if you interpret the Bible as poetry and metaphor it doesn't contradict evolution, or anything else really. It's just beautiful literature. That's not what the debate is about.
posted by freebird at 6:06 PM on January 20, 2006


In a related Note...It turns out that God or the Flying Spaghetti Monster made mammals with an inner ear that was just like the gill opening of a 370-million-year-old fossil fish called Panderichthys

To paraphrase the old quote "Not believing that God created speciation is a Faith like not collecting stamps is a Hobby"
posted by Megafly at 6:07 PM on January 20, 2006


y6y6y6: First off, I completely agree with you. There is no practical basis for considering supernatural hypotheses using natural means of investigation. Still we cannot say that these hypotheses are actually wrong, although we should also emphasize that there in fact is no way of testing them. They simply do not fall into the realm of practical scientific inquiry.

The main thrust of scientific inquiry is the only thing we can do with certainty is prove that some hypothesis is false. Supporting evidence and predictive power will strengthen a hypothesis, but it will not say with complete certainty that it is true, nothing will. Therefore, given the lack of evidence, I think the God hypothesis is incredibly weak, yet, given the experimental conditions, there's nothing I can do to disprove it (especially given all those subjective terms and ideas about God or the Terminator or what have you). Evolutionary theory fits the evidence very well and is thus a stronger hypothesis and the fact that we have some avenues to disprove it, but have not been able to only strengthens the arguments for this model.

But if evidence pops up to counter modern evolutionary theory, then we'll have to accept that theory might be wrong. What happens in these cases is that the theory changes to incorporate the new information. Some of the things that Darwin said were wrong, thus modern evolutionary theory is different from what he said before.
posted by Mercaptan at 6:20 PM on January 20, 2006


Freebird: This is interestingly frustrating, and yet I think it highlights how we're in this intelligent design mess to begin with. I've noticed that most scientists don't really care if there's a God or not. Without a God-meter, there isn't much scientists can say about an omnipotent entity one way or the other.

At this point, screw evolution, it looks like we really should be teaching stats and the basics of the scientific method in schools. That's where educating people about this matter will really start.

Also funny that you're tipsy too. I ran off with labmates and snagged a few beers between posts myself.
posted by Mercaptan at 6:48 PM on January 20, 2006


I apologize JekPorkins. I think a thoughtful reading of the bible doesn't really contradict much of science at all. I heard Dawkins talking about his minister friend who feels that *not* believing in evolution is heretical, because it's so much more elegant a story that to insist on Creation is really a denigration of God's grace. I thought that was a nice perspective.

Mercaptan - yah, I think the issue really brings out a lot of interesting things. I think a lot of people on the Evolution side are much more caught up in it as Culture War and less aware of the scientific issues than they like to admit. So I end up getting frustrated and pissing everyone off.

Fundamentally (heh) I think these are some of the most profound issues humanity has ever faced, and it's a disgrace to the centuries of work we've put into getting here to oversimplify it on either side. I also think it doesn't really matter that much what you actually believe so much as how you think about that belief. In the long run, I don't see close-minded belief I agree with as being any less dangerous than any particular belief I might disagree with.

Hmm. On that note I'm heading home.
posted by freebird at 7:10 PM on January 20, 2006


Intelligent Design and Evolutionism are two sides of the same origins coin. Evolutionism asserts that a designer is not required for complex functional systems. Intelligent Design asserts that a designer is required for complex systems. If one is science, both are. If one is not science, neither is the other one.
posted by bevets at 7:13 PM on January 20, 2006


Intelligent design uses the evil "must" word: Well, if random mutation plus natural selection can't account for the existence of this complex system, then it must have been brought into existence by some intelligent designer.
Why? Why must that be the only alternative?


actually this doesn't sound THAT bad to me. i've heard worse arguements. he's fighting for a rational response to creationists and ID-ists from darwinist's. what's to complain about?
posted by Doorstop at 7:27 PM on January 20, 2006


Bevets: It's a nice position paper you assembled. I read it over, and where are your own opinions in this opinion piece?
posted by Mercaptan at 7:51 PM on January 20, 2006


If one is science, both are. If one is not science, neither is the other one.

Why?
posted by juiceCake at 8:03 PM on January 20, 2006


MetaFilter: Don't hate the player, hate the game.
posted by deusdiabolus at 8:13 PM on January 20, 2006


Intelligent Design and Evolutionism are two sides of the same origins coin. Evolutionism asserts that a designer is not required for complex functional systems. Intelligent Design asserts that a designer is required for complex systems. If one is science, both are. If one is not science, neither is the other one.


I just checked on Google, this is the fourth time the Bevets-bot has cut and pasted this particular piece of nonsense into a Metafilter thread. It's getting very boring.
posted by Flitcraft at 8:31 PM on January 20, 2006


Intelligent Design and Evolutionism are two sides of the same origins coin. Evolutionism asserts that a designer is not required for complex functional systems. Intelligent Design asserts that a designer is required for complex systems. If one is science, both are. If one is not science, neither is the other one.

Mercaptan

It's a nice position paper you assembled. I read it over, and where are your own opinions in this opinion piece?

I agree with the opinions expressed. Do you?

juiceCake

Why?

Why not?

Flitcraft

I just checked on Google, this is the fourth time the Bevets-bot has cut and pasted this particular piece of nonsense into a Metafilter thread. It's getting very boring.

Sorry to bore you. Why are you here?
posted by bevets at 9:34 PM on January 20, 2006


Why?

Why not?


Because!
posted by juiceCake at 9:38 PM on January 20, 2006


Steak and chunks of glass mixed with barb wire are the same side of the supper coin. If one is a meal, both are. If one is not delicious, neither are.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:53 PM on January 20, 2006


Why not?

1) Because Evolutionism doesn't actually exist, being just a term that you (and maybe some other people) made up.

1a) Because said term conflates a number of different ideas, including the theory of evolution and various unrelated theories of the genesis of biological life on earth, which you have pieced together willy-nilly and selectively and also added your own irrelevant interpretations to, thereby creating a pleasant man of straw which you can light on fire to make yourself happy.

1b) Because actual scientific theories of the genesis of life on earth say nothing either way about design, rather than presupposing its nonexistence. But nor do they assume its existence with no particular reason to do so.

2) Because the "theory" of Intelligent Design is most certainly not, as you claim, the assertion that "a designer is required for complex systems". In fact, it is the assertion that a god is required for the design of complex systems, and a particular god at that.

2a) Because otherwise, Intelligent Design advocates would be as open to, and search for evidence of, for example, the idea that earthly biological life was designed by and seeded from a nonterrestrial alien species with a biology which was not, in contrast, irreducibly complex. However, this possibility, which is a painfully obvious one if they believe what you say they do, is generally disregarded by ID advocates in favor of an unprovable and unsupported assertion that the design must have been the work of an omniscient and omnipotent being.

Therefore, by contrasting an ideological which does not exist but was instead invented by you, with another which holds beliefs quite different from the ones you ascribe to it, then asserting for no reason and without support that they are identical in nature because of the semantic similarity you created by doing so, you may have managed to "prove" something to yourself, but you must forgive the rest of us for not taking you seriously.
posted by kyrademon at 1:26 AM on January 21, 2006


Intelligent Design and Evolutionism are two sides of the same origins coin. Evolutionism asserts that a designer is not required for complex functional systems. Intelligent Design asserts that a designer is required for complex systems. If one is science, both are. If one is not science, neither is the other one.

kyrademon

Because Evolutionism doesn't actually exist, being just a term that you (and maybe some other people) made up.

Because said term conflates a number of different ideas, including the theory of evolution and various unrelated theories of the genesis of biological life on earth, which you have pieced together willy-nilly and selectively and also added your own irrelevant interpretations to, thereby creating a pleasant man of straw which you can light on fire to make yourself happy.

Because the "theory" of Intelligent Design is most certainly not, as you claim, the assertion that "a designer is required for complex systems". In fact, it is the assertion that a god is required for the design of complex systems, and a particular god at that.


The confusion over evolutionism started with atheists conflating scientific obersevation with atheist assumptions.
posted by bevets at 4:30 AM on January 21, 2006


Intelligent Design asserts that a designer is required for complex systems.

Unfortunately it doesn't ever define "complex systems".

Other than that, it's solid.

Solid like the middle of a doughnut.
posted by wah at 5:54 AM on January 21, 2006


And no one even summoned him. He got here all on his own. How adorable.
posted by [expletive deleted] at 6:12 AM on January 21, 2006


Sorry to bore you. Why are you here?
posted by bevets at 9:34 PM PST on January 20


Fuck off. The other Christians in this thread replied with reasoned arguments. You just copy-and-paste spam your retarded site.
posted by Optimus Chyme at 6:40 AM on January 21, 2006



posted by moss at 7:02 AM on January 21, 2006


kyrademon - please don't respond to bevets. He's just a copy and paste bot who isn't actually interested in rational discussion.
posted by bshort at 8:47 AM on January 21, 2006


bshort: Which is a shame because it seems that he's at least quoting out of context some of the more interesting minds on the subject.
posted by Mercaptan at 9:18 AM on January 21, 2006


I'm impressed by the Judge's responses to the IDer's arguments. The man got himself educated to a fine degree on what the evolutionary theory is all about. Good work, Judge!

Quite unlike the Bevets, who for lord knows what reason insists on wallowing in his own ignorance.

You'd be a damn sight more effective in your arguments, Bevets, if you had even the slightest clue what you're talking about.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:54 AM on January 21, 2006


Mercaptan - You're right, it's too bad he can't actually have a conversation about anything.
posted by bshort at 5:30 PM on January 21, 2006


Man, this thread is a good illustration of why all this ID crap is going down in the US at all right now.

I believe in this, so please call it science so that I feel smrt. I have a constitutional right to feel smrt!

Bleh.
posted by Hildegarde at 5:23 AM on January 23, 2006


I've never found scifi all that interesting to start with, so I neither know nor care whether Card's work is any good. But for the people here expressing surprise that Card is (by their standards) an asshat in real life, well, it happens. As Bruce Springsteen says, trust the song, not the singer.
posted by lexalexander at 10:49 AM on January 23, 2006


« Older OK, so some professional sports players have less-...  |  "You awaken from an uneasy dre... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments