Monday, November 26, 2007

IDiot Logic

Bill Dembski gives us some insight into the "logic" of Intelligent Design Creationism [E. O. Wilson on ID].
ID does not argue from “Shucks, I can’t imagine how material mechanisms could have brought about a biological structure” to “Gee, therefore God must have done it.” This is a strawman. Here is the argument ID proponents actually make:

Premise 1: Certain biological systems have some diagnostic feature, be it IC (irreducible complexity) or SC (specified complexity) or OC (organized complexity) etc.

Premise 2: Materialistic explanations have been spectacularly unsuccessful in explaining such systems — we have no positive evidence for thinking that material mechanisms can generate them.

Premise 3: Intelligent agency is known to have the causal power to produce systems that display IC/SC/OC.

Conclusion: Therefore, biological systems that exhibit IC/SC/OC are likely to be designed.
The are plenty of complex systems that have perfectly reasonable evolutionary explanations. There are even irreducibly complex systems that can easily be explained by evolution. Bill might think about coming to my lecture on Wednesday where I will explain how the irreducibly complex citric acid cycle evolved.

Thus premise #2 is false. Dembski has been told this on numerous occasions so I have to conclude that he is lying. Premise #2 is logically equivalent to "Shucks, I can’t imagine how material mechanisms could have brought about a biological structure."

Premise #3 is not science. You can't just throw up your hands and say God did it because you lack the intelligence to come up with a naturalistic explanation. Premise #3 is indistinguishable from "Gee, therefore God must have done it."

The conclusion is invalid.

This really isn't much of a challenge. It's like shooting fish in a barrel. I guess that's why we call them IDiots.


  1. Hilarious. Bill says that ID does not argue from “Shucks, I can’t imagine how material mechanisms could have brought about a biological structure” to “Gee, therefore God must have done it” and then proceeds to demonstrate that this is exactly what ID does.

    For a man with 2 PhDs, he can be pretty thick sometimes.

  2. "It's like shooting fish in a barrel..."

    Which the Mythbusters apparently determined actually is easy.

  3. I wonder when Dembski will claim that AC/DC supports IDC.

  4. Dumbski really can't tell that the second part is just a longer and fancier-vocab way of saying the first? What a maroon. And this guy is a mathematician? He's another candidate for this poster caption.

  5. My own crack at this silly "rebuttal" is decidedly more longwinded, but basically on the same page.

    Basically, Dembski seems to be restating what Wilson said with different words, and then somehow declaring that it's a straw man. Bizarre.

    Even more bizarre is when Dembski complains that scientists de facto rule ID out of the science game, when it's Dembski himself with his "you can't distinguish design from non-design, because everything is ultimately tracable back to design" arguments and 4th law of thermodynamics nattering that have done the most to take ID out of the realm of any possible verifiability.

  6. I don’t understand why scientists answer IDiots with science. ID is a philosophical proposition (you can tell by the way IDiots would rather manipulate words than data) whose verification, as if philosophical propositions could be verified, wouldn’t make a shred of difference anyway. Is the universe designed or does it merely gives the appearance thereof ... is gibberish in the form of a question. It doesn’t matter how you answer that “question”, the scientific consequences are the same: there are none.

    Fundamentally, ID is just science envy.

  7. More than being a rehash of the "goddidit" argument, the elaborated argument fails in every step. (And Dembski must know this.)

    Premise #1 is handwaving. Premise #2 is false. Premise #3 would describe a natural process. And the conclusion doesn't follow ("likely") from the premises.

    Ex nihilio nihil fit. I think weaseling William Dembski should stick to piracy of university videos instead. When the expected discovery time is months instead of milliseconds.

  8. lists 99 meanings for IC. My favourites:
    Ignore Case
    Instant Creation
    Ignorant Confidence
    Information Circular

    For SCSC you’ll find 122 results. My favourites:
    Second Class
    Short Cut

    58 meanings for OCare listed. My favourites:
    Of Christ
    Organized Crime

    And you won’t find irreducible, specified or organized complexity there.