Thursday, November 22, 2007

What She Said

Monado of Science Notes has pointed out, once again, the major flaw in Intelligent Design Creationism [ The Masked Man speaks]. In spite of all the blustering and rhetoric, Intelligent Design Creationism boils down to just one thing—arguments against evolution. Here's what Monado says ...
I throw in my two cents' worth:

There is indeed a huge, huge logical fallacy at the base of Dembski's argument. It's the assumption that if you pick enough holes in evolution to let the air out, "God did it" is the only remaining conclusion. That's known as a false dichotomy.

In reality, there are a lot more than two choices. If the received explanation of evolution were not true, it would be back to the drawing board for everyone. If it isn't random mutation plus natural selection plus sexual selection plus genetic drift, then perhaps it's inheritance of acquired characteristics plus natural selection plus sexual selection plus genetic drift. There's no reason to jump to the conclusion that unnatural causes are needed.

The result of pushing the false dichotomy is that ID proponents are ready to use every rhetorical trick in the book, misrepresent evolution, continue to quote falsified "facts," and invent mathematical proofs based on strained assumptions that evolution can't occur without angels pushing the molecules. Dembski's arguments have been falsified again and again. Mutation produces new information. Mutation can produce improvements. Mutation can double the genetic material and then modify it (in spite of the "if I copied this paper I haven't doubled my knowledge" rhetoric). Natural selection is neither directed by God nor random at a particular time and place. It is probabilistic, however. When Dembski claims that something is impossible and actual researchers explain step by step how that could happen, his argument is demolished. The fact that our evidence is always "pathetic" and his evidence is non-existent tells you who has the logic on their side and who is blowing smoke.
Many people have said this before but we need to keep hammering away at this point [see Kirk Durston's Proof of God]. There's no logic to Intelligent Design Creationism other than discrediting evolution on the assumption that God is the only other option.

This is why we call them IDiots.


  1. Good points. It must never be forgotten that a scientist's agenda is to the truth wherever that may take him or her. A creationist/IDer's agenda is to only convince. They feel they are quite correct to lie, suppress data and invent falacious data to achieve their own ends.

  2. Think about it - a whole not-so-cottage pseudoscientific industry full of people too insecure to say "I don't know." 'Cause that's the honest answer if the prevailing theory is wrong.

  3. > In reality, there are a lot more than two choices.

    I certainly agree, I believe Intelligent Design is a misnomer, the end of the argument should be "evolution didn't do it."

    So I nominate as an acronym, EDDI.

    > Mutation produces new information.

    Yes, agreed, it can.

    > Natural selection is neither directed by God nor random at a particular time and place.

    This is (alas) typical claim of virtually supernatural knowledge by of all people, a naturalist. We may of course have a working hypothesis that there is no supernature, but to state this uncategorically is to claim knowledge that no one can have.

    Which is why I might call them EGOists! :-)


    P.S. EGO: Evolution Gets Omnipotent

  4. As far as alternatives, there is Gert Korthoff's web pages on "Was Darwin Wrong?"

    Moreover, it is worth pointing out that "intelligent design" is not an alternative, because it does not offer anything about how, or what, or when, or where, or why, or who. Whatever difficulties the advocates of ID claim about standard evolutionary biology, ID does not claim to offer a resolution. For example, if evolution is highly improbable, how probable is ID (maybe it is even more improbable)?

  5. lee_merill says,

    I certainly agree, I believe Intelligent Design is a misnomer, the end of the argument should be "evolution didn't do it."

    But proving a negative is very difficult. Whenever you end your argument with a conclusion like that you get yourself into lots of trouble.

    There are lots of very stupid ideas out there leading to the conclusion that evolution is impossible. For example, you could say that a structure is irreducibly complex and such structures can't evolve. Therefore evolution didn't do it.

    That's not acceptable because it assumes that your premise is correct and in this case it isn't. As a general rule, when your hypothesis conflicts with a naturalistic explanation you must assume that there's something wrong with your hypothesis before invoking the supernatural. This is how science is supposed to work and there are excellent reasons for assuming that the adoption of methodological materialism is a necessary part of good science.

  6. Well said, Prof. Moran! I have encountered so many people who claim that god did it because of something they cannot understand or explain with evolution. In that case I always wanted to ask those people, say, in an unresolved homicide case, should the police officers claim that god did it because they can't explain what was going on? The logic creationists use against evolution is just ridiculous.