Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Is Creationism Anti-Science?

 
It's very hard to define science—it's the demarcation problem and, in spite of what you've been told, philosophers don't agree on how to define science.

A lot of the activities of Intelligent Design Creationists qualify as science, as far as I'm concerned. That's why I spend so much time arguing against their attacks on evolution. Many of the IDiots accept common descent. Their attacks on other aspects of evolution aren't much different than similar attacks from legitimate, non-theistic scientists (e.g. objecting to junk DNA, questioning the Cambrian explosion, challenging strict Darwinism). It counts as "science" but it's very bad science and it's wrong.

All IDiots are anti-evolution but some go farther than others. If you are a Young Earth Creationist who believes that the universe was created less than 10,000 years ago, then you are not just anti-evolution, you are anti-physics, anti-chemistry, anti-geology, anti-astronomy, and anti-biology. I think it's fair to say that Young Earth Creationists are anti-science. This includes most (all?) of the Republican Presidential candidates in the United States and more than half the citizens of that country.

The only way YECs can possibly justify their strange beliefs is to assume that all the experts in all those fields are completely wrong about the fundamental concepts in their discipline. How could they possibly trust anything else those scientists have to say about their areas of expertise?

Let me introduce you to a "new voice" in the Intelligent Design Creationist world. Here's what Evolution News & Views says about him [A New Voice in the Debate Over Evolution and Intelligent Design].
There is literally a new voice in the debate over evolution and intelligent design. If you're a regular listener to the Center for Science & Culture's very popular and thrice weekly podcast, ID The Future, you have probably come to recognize familiar personalities, like ENV's Casey Luskin. (If you're not yet a listener, then you should be.) Now you will be hearing more often from radio broadcaster David Boze of Seattle's KTTH.
I assume David Boze is a heavy-weight and it's okay to criticize him.

Listen to the Discovery Institute podcast where Boze defends Young Earth Creationism against the charge that it's anti-science ["Anti-Science": Unpacking a Vague & Distorted Label]. (You can click on the embedded copy below.) Note the sleight of hand where he lumps together the Young Earth Creationists with all other IDiots. His point is that just because you're opposed to "atheistic Darwinian evolution" does not mean you're anti-science.

Perhaps not. But if you believe in the literal truth of the Bible then you are definitely anti-science. You are a genuine idiot. Does David Boze do a good job of defending Republican Presidential candidates against the charge of being anti-science? Will a YEC President harm the reputation of the United States? You be the judge.

Personally, I don't think the new kid on the block is much of a threat. Is this the best they can do?




10 comments :

  1. "I think it's fair to say that Young Earth Creationists are anti-science. This includes most (all?) of the Republican Presidential candidates in the United States..."

    Most, but not all... Huntsman's infamous tweet shows that. (http://thecaucus.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/08/18/huntsman-on-evolution-call-me-crazy/)

    Whether he stands a chance in a Republican primary is another story....

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  2. I think John Huntsman among the Republican candidates is actually sane and relatively pro-science, which is probably why is is so far behind in the polls.

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  3. The Untied States will never match the reputation for secular reasoning of their northern neighbors, but spelling is another matter.

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  4. YECs are only anti-science until they get sick. Then they make a bee-line to that bastion of science and naturalism: modern medicine.

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  5. YECs are only anti-science until they get sick. Then they make a bee-line to that bastion of science and naturalism: modern medicine.

    Unless they have AIDS, presumably.

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  6. Back in the early 90s Philip Johnson said in answer to a question by a YEC that first they'd tackle evolution, then they'd get to the age of the earth. If the DI is now sympathetic to YEC it means that either they feel they've been so successful that now they can get more ambitious or they're desperate for more allies. Either way this is great. Blog debates on ID matter very little; in the end its all about the Courts, and this development will make it increasingly difficult for IDers to persuade judges that ID is science.
    I disagree with Larry on this. Just because one uses scientific jargon or discusses questions within the purvue of science doesnt mean one is engaging in scientific reasoning.

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  7. Lantog says,

    Blog debates on ID matter very little; in the end its all about the Courts ...

    Really? What role do the courts play in convincing the citizens of Turkey, Nigeria, and Canada that Intelligent Design Creationism is wrong?

    I disagree with Larry on this. Just because one uses scientific jargon or discusses questions within the purvue of science doesnt mean one is engaging in scientific reasoning.

    They are attempting to use scientific reasoning. They're just not doing a very good job!

    Many legitimate scientists make the same mistake.

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  8. Larry Said
    Really? What role do the courts play in convincing the citizens of Turkey, Nigeria, and Canada that Intelligent Design Creationism is wrong?
    None, but they do decide what will be taught in school. I suppose blogs do advance the arguments that can be later used in the Court battles


    Larry Said
    They are attempting to use scientific reasoning. They're just not doing a very good job!
    Many legitimate scientists make the same mistake.
    They’re NOT using scientific reasoning! YECs cite geomagnetism, dust on the moon, and radioactive decay as evidence that the world is 7000 years old. These may sound like scientific arguments but they’re not. Its not enough to use scientific terms, there has to be unbiased scientific reasoning behind it. YECs ( and I would say IDers too) start with the certain knowledge that GOD created the universe through miraculous intervention and then they force scientific knowledge to conform to that. That’s not science! I realize the demarcation problem is not so simple- theres a smooth continuum from genuine science to pseudoscience so we cant draw a clear dividing line but we can evaluate things on a case by case basis. For example, was Nobel laureate Peter Duesburgs AIDS denialism pseudoscience? I’m not really sure ( though AIDS researchers with intimate knowledge of the evidence universally say its pseudoscience)
    Legitimate scientists have biases, but when the biases overwhelming control the interpretation of evidence its not science anymore

    RW

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  9. Dr. Moran writes:

    They are attempting to use scientific reasoning. They're just not doing a very good job!

    Many legitimate scientists make the same mistake.

    I really wonder if they are (attempting to use scientific reasoning). When Dr. Behe, perhaps the most "science-y" of the IDers, admits in court under oath that if ID is science then astrology is science under Behe's definition, how committed to scientific inquiry at its base is ID?

    Yes, we're dealing with a continuum. I just feel that there's a certain point where a lake gets small enough that it is no longer a small lake, it's a pond. I think ID is far enough away at its basis from (1) the spirit of scientific inquiry (rather than being open to contradiction and welcoming the new, it is committed to a single "answer" - Goddidit); (2) the hard work of data gathering (how often have we all joked about the DI's "research program"?); and (3) careful analysis of the gathered data (think of the elegance of experimental design and analysis shown by people like Monod, Lenski, Joe Thornton, and contrast the utterly slipshod unto fraudulent analysis of Wells or Behe), that it is qualitatively, not just quantitatively, different from actual science.

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  10. Re anonymous

    Actually, Prof. Duesberg has not been awarded a Nobel Prize, although he was nominated for the award based on his work on retroviruses in the 1960s

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