Tuesday, September 24, 2013

An "Atheist" Defends Intelligent Design Creationism

Bradley Monton is a Professor in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Colorado at Boulder. On his website he says he specializes in the philosophy of time, philosophy of religion, philosophy of science (especially physics). He doesn't appear to have any expertise in biology or evolution but he's interested in Intelligent Design Creationism.

A few years ago (2009) he published a book with a provocative title: Seeking God in Science: An Atheist Defends Intelligent Design. Normally I wouldn't pay much attention to such a book but Salvo magazine ("Society, Sex, Science") just published an interview with him [Beyond Belief (or the Lack Thereof)]. It ain't pretty.

Let's see how he answers two of the questions.
Why do you think some scientists refuse to take intelligent design seriously?

That's a hard question to answer because it's almost an issue of human psychology and sociology. But I would say that some atheists exhibit a fundamentalism that prevents them from even imagining that someone reasonable, rational, and intelligent could hold views different from their own. Others believe that science is the end-all and be-all—that it can answer all of the important questions about reality. There are even scientists out there, such as the theoretical physicist Steven Weinberg, who proclaim that neither religion nor philosophy can tell us anything important about the world. I totally disagree. Philosophy is actually an important field of inquiry. It can figure out the nature of ethical truths and what specific truths might be. Philosophy can also be used to investigate the existence of God in a way that science cannot.
Actually, the question is much easier to answer than Bradley Monton realizes. Scientists don't take Intelligent Design Creationism seriously because it's very bad science. (It's also very bad philosophy according to most of the philosophers I respect.)

About 99% of everything the IDiots publish consists of various attacks on modern science and evolution (which they refer to as "materialism" and "Darwinism"). It's easy to show that those attacks are not based on sound reasoning and are not based on evidence. In other words, they are not based on reality. That's something Monton would have known if he had really studied the movement.

Monton says that philosophy can "figure out" ethical truths. Really? I wonder what ethical truths he has in mind?

He also says that philosophy can investigate the existence of God in a way that science cannot? I wonder what he means? Either there is evidence of God(s) or their isn't. That's a question that science can address. What else is there that only philosophers can explore?
You write in your book that you don't fully endorse intelligent design. In your opinion, what are some of the weaknesses of ID?

At one time, I would have said that the greatest weakness was the failure of ID proponents to put a theory on the table that makes testable predictions, but that all changed with Jonathan Wells's book The Myth of Junk DNA. In it, Wells predicted that this purported junk DNA—these stretches of DNA in our genome that many scientists had claimed were useless—would be purposeful for the structure of human biology. Well, within the past year or so, empirical investigation has confirmed that there is in fact much less junk DNA than scientists had previously thought. It's just a great example of a testable prediction that was made by a proponent of intelligent design that turned out to be successful.
This is why philosophers should stick to "ethical truths" and leave science to the experts. If he were knowledgeable about biology he would realize that ENCODE did not "confirm" any such thing. In fact, the fallout from the ENCODE publicity disaster has made most scientists realize that the case for lots of junk in our genome is much stronger than they realized.

Bradley Monton has a blog [Bradley Monton's Blog] where he discusses Intelligent Design Creationism. A lot of his post are very sympathetic to that form of creationism. If he's familiar with the blogosphere then surely he has read some of the critiques of Jonathan Wells' book and the recent debate about ENCODE and junk DNA? If not, he better try and catch up on real science before he embarrasses himself in another interview.


60 comments :

  1. Let's not judge all philosophers on the basis of this pompous nitwit.

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    1. ""Let's not judge all philosophers on the basis of this pompous nitwit.""

      True, but unfortunately, the temptation is high. For starters, it would be nice to see other philosophers take him on after this disastrous interview.

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  2. He also says that philosophy can investigate the existence of God in a way that science cannot? I wonder what he means?

    I'll grant that philosophers are better at making stuff up.

    Note that Monton does not appear to have posted to his blog for over 4 years.

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  3. Others believe that science is the end-all and be-all—that it can answer all of the important questions about reality.

    How disingenuous.

    All that reasonable scientists say is that if something is claimed to exist, it had better comport with epistemology. Any reasonable philosopher would say that too, which probably is why few philosophers are theists, let alone ID-creationists.

    But no, why should we have a basis for making claims, when you can just make up junk, like Wells did. There is nothing in an ID that denies the evolutionary evidence provided by vestigial organs that entails that junk DNA shouldn't exist, or at least should be rare (oh, and how rare? Based upon what?). It's not only wrong, it isn't even a real prediction.

    Glen Davidson

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  4. Richard Feynman: Philosophy is as useful to scientists as ornithology is to birds. Nuff said.

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  5. Nothing to see here, just another Templeton thrall singing for his supper.

    http://www.stthomas.edu/philosophy/templeton/project.html

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  6. Doesn't our own village IDiot, Jonathan McLatchie, deny that lack of Junk DNA is a prediction of ID creationism? Or am I not recalling that correctly.

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  7. Its not scientists. Its tiny groups of "scientists" who apply themselves to certain matters in origin subjects.
    They are just thinkers or researchers in subjects about unobserved ecvents and processes.
    Are they doing science when drawing their conclusions?
    Many YEC say no or say they do poor science.
    Anyways if its about science as opposed to other paid university subjects like philosophy then Show us the science behind evolution.
    Nay show this YEC creationist that scientific methodology is being applied to conclusions about biological evolution.
    Not right or wrong but FIRST is science going on here as opposed to investigation picking and choosing evidences to make a conclusion.
    I insist that connecting fossils, dna, or bonealikeness(morphology) is not doing biological scientific investigation into origins of biology.
    Even if right iin its conclusions its not doing it.
    Its not science!!
    A video from a space alien proving evolution wouldn't be science either even though proving evolution!
    Science is real or its just a word for people to persuade other people about conclusions.
    The science of persuasion.

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    1. Come on Bobbie. You truly can't be this stupid.

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    2. Is this your first time at Bob Byers' Wonderful World of Whackiness?

      ;)

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    3. Mr. Byers, present your YEC evidence. And I do mean evidence FOR YEC, not attacks on the established science of evolution, astrophysics, etc. I do not allow false dichotomies. 3... 2... 1... GO!

      Dave Bailey

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    4. The rat/Dave Bailey.
      its irrelevant and anyways off thread. Why do you ask me to derail?
      I just comment on the thread by the host.
      Defend your own stuff or surrender,

      Delete
    5. ""Defend your own stuff or surrender""

      You didn't present any argument, so there's nothing to defend.

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    6. Irrelevant? That word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

      Anyway, you fail, and fail miserably. From now on you will exist merely as an object for humour and derision. If I can be bothered.

      Dave Bailey

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  8. I would guess that this guy, Monton, does not care about science. I would guess that he does not care about embarrassing himself either. I would guess that what he cares about is selling many copies of his book. He will succeed. All he needs is the sympathetic dollar of the believer, and that is quite an abundant source of money.

    But I'm only guessing, of course.

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  9. This further statement by Monton in the interview seems revealing to me:

    You've written that intelligent-design arguments have made you less certain of your atheism. What would it take to make you abandon it altogether?

    Some people have come to believe in God on the basis of divine revelation, which is intellectually legitimate, as far as I'm concerned. I wish that I could have that sort of profound revelatory experience because then I could stop struggling with philosophical arguments and the extent to which the fine-tuning of the universe points to a creator. But the fact is that I haven't. A lot of other people haven't either, which leaves us searching for alternative forms of proof. I don't find the historical evidence for Christianity—or any other religion, for that matter—especially compelling. It's not that this sort of evidence is definitely flawed; it's just that it isn't compelling enough for me. Absent revelation and historical evidence, the best place to find God, in my opinion, is in science, and that's one of the reasons I'm so motivated to think about intelligent design.


    I think that clarifies his particular definition of the wrod "atheist". He seems to use the term to refer to someone who actually believes there probably is a God, but is intellectually honest enough to acknowledge that there is no evidence for the existence of such a being. So he spends his time looking for such evidence, in the hope that he will some day be able to elevate his faith to a rationally defensible position.

    A liar, IOW.

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    1. Some people have come to believe in God on the basis of divine revelation, which is intellectually legitimate, as far as I'm concerned.
      It isn't. Such a "revelation" is indistinguishable from delusion and thus can't serve as evidence of god.

      Monton wouldn't know skepticism and critical thinking if it ran over him in a truck.

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    2. Poor guy has a god-shaped hole in his heart. Revelation is intellectually sound? Why does he still have a job in academia?

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    3. Monton: "Some people have come to believe in God on the basis of divine revelation, which is intellectually legitimate, as far as I'm concerned."

      So Bradley Monton claims to be an atheist-- which I don't believe-- but what's clear is that he's not a rationalist. He acknowledges that "truth" can be obtained by irrational or anti-rational means, so, like the Christian right, he's at war against human reason.

      Do any of us need to point out what's wrong with saying "divine revelation" is legitimate source of truth or knowledge? Do we have to point out the obvious?

      1. It assumes the consequent. If you assume that the divine exists, then any conclusion derived from that, regarding the existence of god, is dependent on your initial assumption being true. To conclude god exists, you must assume the divine exists.

      2. It's self-contradictory. Different divine revelations arrive at contradictory conclusions, and they can't all be right. One person's revelation is that Jesus is the only true god. Another person's revelation is that Allah is the only true god. So to prove God, Monton is willing to abandon the law of non-contradiction, and without that, you can forget the rest of logic.

      3. Divine revelation is in practice indistinguishable from delusion, schizophrenia, fever dreams, or being kicked in the head by a horse.

      Bottom line: Monton admits that God can be arrived at by anti-rational means, so he has no authority from which to assert that Intelligent Design is rational or "intellectually sophisticated."

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  10. Matt Young at Panda's Thumb reviews Monton's book here:

    http://pandasthumb.org/archives/2010/01/an-atheist-defe.html

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  11. I didn't have to go any further than Moran's use of the phrase "IDiots" to stop taking him seriously. When you insult those with whom you disagree, it's not logic or science talking; it's emotionalism, pure and simple. It destroys any facade of objectivity, and reduces him to being "Just another Internet name-caller."

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    1. So what does the fact that you've just insulted Larry Moran tell us? Hmm?

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    2. I don't have to read any further into your comment, beyond "I didn't have to go any further than Moran's use of the phrase "IDiots" to stop taking him seriously.", before I stopped taking you seriously.

      We don't have to respect people who portray themselves as authorities in subjects they really know nothing about.

      You're engaging in a logical fallacy-- let's call it argumentum ad Luskinem: when people proved my fact-claims wrong, they weren't polite about it; therefore that makes my fact-claims accurate. As Casey Luskin would say: 'Scientists make me look bad by exposing my factual errors. Any refutation is invalid if it makes me look incompetent by comparing my statements to actual facts.'

      Scientists have a moral responsibility to be disrespectful towards those who get easily-verifiable scientific facts wrong, if they refuse to admit it after they've been corrected hundreds of times.

      No, you can't defend Monton's factually false claims about Junk DNA or ENCODE (about which Larry Moran has blogged in exhausting detail) or his IDiotic logic in claiming that divine revelation is a legitimate source of truth.

      All you've got is argumentum ad Luskinem.

      If you still want some science, look in the left-hand column for Larry's countless blog posts on Junk DNA and genetics.

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    3. I'm not engaging in any logical fallacy at all. My argument has nothing to do with the ID debate; I am not agreeing or disagreeing with any points made by either side. It has everything to do with the tactic of insulting your opponents. Is insult a legitimate form of debate?

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    4. lutesuite: How have I insulted Moran? By stating that insults are a form of emotionalism? If that statement is false, then you're correct; I have insulted him. If not, please show me where the insult lies. I haven't called him an "idiot" or used any pejorative whatsoever. When a person calls those with whom he disagrees "idiots", would you not say that man is name-calling?

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    5. "Scientists have a moral responsibility to be disrespectful..." It's a moral imperative to disrespect others? That's an interesting bit of philosophy. What about those who have refused to admit truth a dozen times? Or five times? When does it become not just morally permissible, but morally imperative, to disrespect others? How about 50 times?

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    6. Keith Ward asks: "Is insult a legitimate form of debate?"

      Depends on what kind of insult, doesn't it. Some are relevant, some aren't. "You're ugly" is usually not scientifically relevant (unless one is claiming beauty.)

      "You lied about the results of the ENCODE project" is an insult, but it is scientifically relevant.

      We don't use the word IDiot to describe people who believe a different hypothesis from ours, as long as that hypothesis is supported by actual facts.

      But if all your argument depends critically on fact-claims that are easily, verifiably false, and if, after we point out to you your fact-claims are false, you continue to repeat the same things like parrots, then you're an IDiot.

      I return your question with a question: "Is complaining about insults a legitimate form of debate?"

      Do you believe that complaining about someone's tone in any way establishes Bradley Monton's statements, cited above, as accurate? Please read Monton's statements above, and see if you can find any fallacies.

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    7. "I'm not engaging in any logical fallacy at all."
      Yes you are, you're using the language used as an excuse not to deal with the criticism.

      "My argument has nothing to do with the ID debate; I am not agreeing or disagreeing with any points made by either side."
      Nooooo, of COURSE it doesn't. You just happened to end up here by accident and out of the blue it fell to you that the language used isn't proper in your opinion. That's what you do, the kind of guy you are. World-police.

      Give me a fucking break.

      "It has everything to do with the tactic of insulting your opponents. Is insult a legitimate form of debate?
      If all it consisted of was insult, no. But there's more to it than that, there are actual arguments and evidence, and we're dealing with a group of people who have a history of ignoring and censoring criticism and corrections repeatedly despite being called on not to. That justifies using harsh language when correcting them.

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    8. Sorry, but I'm not a big fan of elaborate justification frameworks for insults. They drag down the level of discourse, a level that's already pathetically low on the Internet. I'd rather we agree that it's better to respect others, rather than disrespect them.

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    9. This has been an enlightening discussion. Thanks all for your input.

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    10. Keith, Larry shows why the IDiots are wrong •scientifically• all the time. That is a major portion of this blog. Did you just discover it, see the word 'IDiot' – a well-earned term of opprobrium, if you know this subject at all – and then feel all sad and concerned inside? If so, perhaps you should look at his recent posts on the bad science of Stephen Meyer's 'Darwin's Doubt' as a corrective to any such view you might be nurturing that insults are somehow the •basis• of Larry's critiques of ID. The insults are just bonuses.

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    11. Further, I once might have agreed with you, Keith, that insults are wrong, etc. - but after reading about this subject for eight or so years now, I have long since seen that the 'other side' - the IDiots - are not somehow just 'respectably wrong', or just happen to have 'different views' of the same evidence, but are a gaggle of intellectually dishonest scum who perpetuate scientific untruths even when they are shown definitively to be wrong.

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    12. Looks as if he's gone now. Having smugly established his moral superiority to everyone here, his work is done.

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    13. What's the name of this fallacy? Tone fallacy? 'I don't care for your tone, thus I can ignore the verifiable facts you reported.'

      Good day, sir. I SAID GOOD DAY.

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    14. When you insult those with whom you disagree, it's not logic or science talking; it's emotionalism, pure and simple. It destroys any facade of objectivity

      That's right, moron. At best there's only a facade of objectivity coming from ID, and it should be destroyed.

      ID's been shown to be a fraud by scientists and by a well-publicized trial. That's why we call ID a fraud, and the frauds pushing it IDiots.

      You just want us to dishonestly accord a bunch of charlatans respect that they don't deserve. It might be "nice" to pretend that they're something besides frauds, but it would be deeply insulting to any sense of truth.

      Glen Davidson

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    15. Diogenes, was that a Newsradio reference?

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    16. Is insult a legitimate form of debate?

      Yep. It is. It can backfire, of course. This is why I hold mine until there's enough evidence to make it a proper description. IDiots is a proper description for the cdesignproponentsists. It's beautifully descriptive and therefore appropriate. No need for elaborate justifications.

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    17. @ Keith Ward:

      lutesuite: How have I insulted Moran?

      By calling him "Just another Internet name-caller." That's an insult. It also indicates that you might benefit from reading Larry's latest post on hypocrisy.

      http://sandwalk.blogspot.ca/2013/09/hypocrisy.html

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    18. ""I didn't have to go any further than Moran's use of the phrase "IDiots" to stop taking him seriously. When you insult those with whom you disagree, it's not logic or science talking; it's emotionalism, pure and simple. It destroys any facade of objectivity, and reduces him to being "Just another Internet name-caller.""

      Keith,

      The reason why Moran calls them IDiots isn't because of disagreement. It's because:

      1) they have no real knowledge of science

      2) they INTENTIONALY LIE, OBFUSCATE, MISQUOTE, attempt to RUIN EDUCATION, etc, for religious reasons.

      People like that don't deserve any respect. If you understood that, you'd also understand why they are called IDiots. This isn't about scientific disagreement.

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    19. Just for anyone who isn't used to this internet argument, Ward would have a good point about insult and ridicule if Moran et al. had first responded to ID by calling them IDiots, rather than responding with arguments. However, ID was first met with a host arguments and explanations. And this despite the fact that ID from the beginning has lied about science and scientists, claiming that the rules were made to exclude God/Designer, when they're just applications of good standards of epistemology.

      Despite being answered, the IDiots simply repeated the same claptrap, often with more lies about why knowledgeable people didn't accept their fraud as science. They repeat IDiocy, no matter how well answered they have been, so they're called IDiots. They're not all stupid, of course, but their spiel is stupid, so we use the shorthand and call them IDiots.

      They weren't gratuitously given the term "IDiot," they earned it.

      Glen Davidson

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    20. Precisely. Their "arguments" have been delt with countless times. They didn't learn anything because they are not interested in learning anything to begin with. They just continue lying and misrepresenting science to further their religious causes. This is why they are idiots.

      But maybe Keith is new to this all sharade and didn't realize that yet.

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    21. Hi Keith. so, apparently if the author of a blog post or article insults someone, then by your standards, one can simply ignore anything that author writes - yes? Then surely you ignore everything Klinghoffer, Demvbski, Arrington, etc., write, right?

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  12. What are the words IDiots or IDiotic if not just a more practical way of referring to cdesignproponentsists? The plain word 'idiot' is rather ambiguous and I'd like to use it to express my opinion about another person: He is clueless and (that is why) he make stupid arguments.

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  13. Another marvelous snippet from the interview with the IDiot: "Intelligent design should be allowed in the academy because most of the proponents of intelligent design are intellectually sophisticated. There's no doubt about it."

    He names, specifically, Behe and Wells. Yes, they're "intellectually sophisticated" in the sense that a con man needs some kind of intelligence to cheat people. In the sense that a used car salesman who writes a contract that doesn't mean what it appears to mean, is intellectually sophisticated. There are "intellectually sophisticated" lawyers and stock brokers who figure out how to argue over the meaning of every word in a contract so as to evade its clear obligations. That takes some kind of brains, but not scientific brains.

    "People such as Michael Behe and Jonathan Wells should be allowed to pursue -empirical and philosophical investigations in whatever way they think best leads to truth"

    But they don't. Behe said on the witness stand at Dover that he'll never investigate how Irreducibly Complex systems came out because ID investigations would not be "fruitful." Darwinists didn't suppress his research-- the ID hypothesis suppressed any research which could be done by its proponents, because, as he basically admitted, "It happened by a magic puff of smoke" makes research superfluous.

    Behe's book came out in 1996 and since then he has not done any empirical investigation into ANY of the "Irreducibly Complex" systems described in it-- nothing into the blood clotting cascade, immune system, flagellum, nothing. Nothing.

    As for Jonathan Wells, his only "research" was to idiotically claim that, if ID is true, centrioles would be shown to be little turbines that drove the polar ejection force during mitosis, by vibration. The research was done-- not by Wells or any other IDiot, of course evolutionists did the research-- and centrioles were shown to be not turbines and not the drivers of the polar ejection force.

    His other earth-shattering idea was that genetic mutations don't cause cancer, a "ground-breaking" hypothesis he moronically called "TOPS" and promoted in 2004. Nine years later, he has not published a single experimental paper on the topic and he will grow older and die without ever having done so.

    Monton: "The academy should be about respecting ideas, however controversial they might be."

    NO you IDiot. Science, not "The Academy" la-la, should be about rejecting ideas that are falsified by observation, or are non-falsifiable. This IDiot's standard would mean we have to employ Holocaust deniers and people who say the moon landing was faked.

    Monton: "Once you screen people on their ability to be intellectually sophisticated, they should be allowed to pursue the issues they want to pursue, even issues that go against the current orthodoxy—that violate the standard canons of how thinking should be done."

    Sure, the standard canon says that scientific theories should be testable and scientists should tell the truth. IDiots like Behe and Wells say that hypotheses don't need to be testable, and ridicule standards of scholarly integrity, and lie on the witness stand at Dover.

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    1. ""...because most of the proponents of intelligent design are intellectually sophisticated""


      I guess that Bradley Monton uses himself as a yardstick for measuring intelectual sophistication. Looking at his arguments in this interview I'd say he and the IDiots are at about the same level, yes.

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  14. The only idiots are the ones dominating this discussion forum.

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    1. Thank you for your extremely thoughtful and well-reasoned comment.

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    2. One need only look at William's profile to see why he offered nothing.

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    3. As for our creationist friend William Maddock. The website Fundies Say the Darnedest Things compiles the dumbest things said by fundamentalists.

      They record the following from a William F. Maddock of St. Louis: "If evolution is true, why is there so much wailing and gnashing of teeth when it is suggested that public schools stop teaching lies as though they are fact?

      He does not seem to grasp the contradiction. This is the source of some fun at FSTDT.

      From William's profile: he writes hymns about how non-Christians go to hell.

      William Maddock: "I have a new hymn, "Oh, my Soul, the Lord is Coming!"


      This is a hymn regarding repentance and the refusal of it, and the consequences that come."


      Better believe what Maddock says, or his deity will torture you!

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  15. I am an atheist who holds posistions very similar to Monton’s. Let me refute your bad attempt at engaging his position.

    “Scientists don't take Intelligent Design Creationism seriously because it's very bad science.”

    Actually, Monton is quite justified in claiming that scientists reject ID based on their own baises, rather than an assesment of the evidence. This would be a very easy thing to test. If you were to ask scientists to simply define intelligent design, only a small minority would be able to accurately represent it.. most would give highly caricatured versions of “ID”. Most wouldn’t even know what exactly ID is, much less know why it is “bad science”. If fact, many scientists reject ID because they claim that it is not science at all which is incomatible with the assertion that it is “bad science”. (this is easy to see.. for example football is not science, it would be illogical to claim that football is “bad science”)

    “It's also very bad philosophy according to most of the philosophers I respect.”

    Good thing most philosophers have no respect for selective appeals to athority.

    “About 99% of everything the IDiots publish consists of various attacks on modern science and evolution (which they refer to as "materialism" and "Darwinism"). “

    The fact that you (and many other philosophically ignorant scientists) conflate “modern science” with “materialism” makes it completely justified for them to attack materialism and argue that science does not depend on it. Brad’s book contains several arguments regarding this point, I won’t go into detail about this unless challenged further, but I’ll just suggest that you read the second chapter of his book.

    “Monton says that philosophy can "figure out" ethical truths. Really? I wonder what ethical truths he has in mind?”

    Your personal incredulity does not show that philosophy can not reach conclusions about ethical truths. Please read a few ethics textbooks before you embarrass yourself further on this one.

    “He also says that philosophy can investigate the existence of God in a way that science cannot? I wonder what he means?”

    There are arguments for the existence of God that do not rely on scientific premises, for example ontological arguments or moral arguments for God’s existence. Even arguments for God’s that proport to to use scientific evidence

    “Either there is evidence of God(s) or their isn't. That's a question that science can address. What else is there that only philosophers can explore?”

    If an argument proports to use science to demonstrate God’s existence, there are undoubtedly going to be hidden philosophical presuppositions in the argument. And you can dispute these sorts of arguments by either challenging the scientific facts, the logic of the argument or perhaps on the philosophical assumptions that the argument contains. For example, the Kalam argument and the fine tuning argument are both arguments that try to argue for God’s existence based on scientific information. These arguments however, aren’t exclusively scientific since they contain philosophical assumptions and can be challenged on the basis of philosophical argumentation.

    …regarding your last point about junk DNA. Perhaps you are correct on this, I do not know enough about this point to comment on it. But, assuming you are correct, at least it shows that ID claims are falsifiable and at least one such claim has in fact been falsified.

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    1. It's amusing that you accuse Larry of not understanding what he's talking about, then think you've achieved a "gotcha" moment with your last point on the falsifiability of ID. Perhaps Larry will soon be by to enlighten you on his position on that matter.

      Just to pick one other point from your post: You claim philosophy if able to "reach conclusions about ethical truths." Perhaps you could give an example of such a truth that has finally and definitively been determined by philosophy. I'm looking for the equivalent of a scientific truth such as "humans and chimpanzees share a common ancestor" or "the cycle of day and night is caused by the earth's rotation on it axis". There are truths about the physical universe that eluded humankind for most of its history, until they were elucidated by science. What similar answers have been provided by the philosophical discussion of ethics?

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    2. I don't have time to correct all your misunderstandings and misconceptions but there's a few things I'd like you to clarify.

      When I said, “Monton says that philosophy can "figure out" ethical truths. Really? I wonder what ethical truths he has in mind?” You replied,

      Your personal incredulity does not show that philosophy can not reach conclusions about ethical truths. Please read a few ethics textbooks before you embarrass yourself further on this one.

      It's true that some philosophers have demonstrated pretty conclusively that there's no such thing as a "ethical truth." Is that what you mean?

      Keep in mind that I defend science as a way of knowing that applies to all disciplines, including philosophy. Your task is to show me respectable ethics textbooks that arrive at ethical truths without using the scientific way of knowing. Presumably, they use some other, mysterious, way of knowing that only philosophers can use.

      When I said, “He also says that philosophy can investigate the existence of God in a way that science cannot? I wonder what he means?” You replied,

      There are arguments for the existence of God that do not rely on scientific premises, for example ontological arguments or moral arguments for God’s existence.

      The scientific way of knowing requires evidence. You should not believe in something without evidence. I suppose it's true that some philosophers can engage in a non-scientific investigation of the existence of god(s). I suppose it's true that some of them can be satisfied with arguments that have no evidence to support them.

      I stand corrected. There are some aspects of philosophy that try to utilize a non-scientific way of arriving at truth. A way that doesn't require evidence.

      These arguments however, aren’t exclusively scientific since they contain philosophical assumptions and can be challenged on the basis of philosophical argumentation.

      I think you have a very different definition of "science" than the one I prefer. See: Science Doesn't Have All the Answers but Does It Have All the Questions?. My definition requires rational thinking. That's all part of the scientific way of knowing. Rational thinking and logic are not the exclusive domains of philosophy.

      What's your definition of science? Does it exclude rational thinking so that scientists have to consult philosophers whenever they encounter something that looks like a logical argument?

      ... …regarding your last point about junk DNA. Perhaps you are correct on this, I do not know enough about this point to comment on it. But, assuming you are correct, at least it shows that ID claims are falsifiable and at least one such claim has in fact been falsified.

      Almost all the claims that IDiots make are falsifiable and most have been falsified or discredited. That's why Intelligent Design Creationism is bad science. This is not news to any scientist who has followed the debate.

      Morton seems to think that the IDiots are actually proposing some testable theory when, in fact, 99.9% of what they do is attack science and religion.

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    3. @lutesuite

      “Larry of not understanding what he's talking about, then think you've achieved a "gotcha" moment with your last point on the fallibility of ID. Perhaps Larry will soon be by to enlighten you on his position on that matter.”

      My last comment wasn’t addressing Larry’s position. It was simply pointing out that the claim that Larry makes (that ID is “bad science”) is incompatible with the common assertion among scientists that ID is “unscientific”. Something cannot fail by the standards of science when the thing itself has nothing to do with science in the first place.

      I have never claimed that we can be absolutely certain about particular ethical truths, but I’ll give you an example of what I mean by philosophy “figuring out” and “reaching conclusions” about ethics. It is quite easy to demonstrate that arguments in favor of a given ethical position are false. For example, Lawrence Krauss in a debate with William Lane Craig claimed that “science tells him” that homosexuality isn't’ wrong because 10% of every mammalian species is gay. This is an obvious example of the naturalistic fallacy and leads to the conclusion that rape and eating your offspring are not objectionable acts

      (To clarify, I am NOT arguing that homosexuality is wrong, I have nothing against homosexuality. I am merely demonstrating that a particular argument in favor of homosexuality is flawed. This doesn't preclude the possibility of other arguments in favor of homosexuality being logically sound)

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    4. Philosophers have been very influential in constructing "rules" of logic and in identifying common fallacies. In fact, the concept of "critical thinking" is mostly due to philosophy.

      You picked a good example of the naturalistic fallacy. But all it shows is a bad argument. I suppose there's a sense of arriving at some "ethical truth" by eliminating false candidates but that seems like a very weak case to me.

      Can you give me an example of a postive contribution from philosophers? What "ethical truth" have they discovered in the past 2500 years of trying?

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  16. "Keep in mind that I defend science as a way of knowing that applies to all disciplines, including philosophy"

    In this case, I think we disagree with less that I expected. You are using the term "science" in a much broader way than I expected, so I think some of our differences are semantic.

    "Your task is to show me respectable ethics textbooks that arrive at ethical truths without using the scientific way of knowing. Presumably, they use some other, mysterious, way of knowing that only philosophers can use."

    I do not believe that we can arrive at truth using any "mysterious" method, I do not have to demonstrate that. Again, I assumed that you use the term "science" in a much more restrictive way than you actually do.

    "Does it exclude rational thinking so that scientists have to consult philosophers whenever they encounter something that looks like a logical argument?"

    To be completely honest, I don't think it would be a bad idea for scientists to consult philosophers when dealing with logical arguments.. most scientists haven't studied logic in any depth... I would guess that most haven't even taken a logic course at the university level, much less the graduate level.

    "Almost all the claims that IDiots make are falsifiable and most have been falsified or discredited. That's why Intelligent Design Creationism is bad science. This is not news to any scientist who has followed the debate. "

    I don't disagree with you on this one, however I can't agree that most scientists would reject ID on these grounds. Most scientists reject ID on the basis of it being "unscientific"or on the grounds that ID proponents are bad people who are trying to push an agenda. Some even appeal to the authority of Judge Jones. Simply put, many scientists caricature ID, and this is exactly what Monton is fighting against.

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    1. Even if that is true, it does not forgive Monton for his gross mischaracterization of ID as a legitimate scientific endeavour that has made testable predictions that have turned out to be correct. If ID creationism is a scientifically useless idea, it is of no great importance that scientists reject it for the correct reason, so long as they are correct in rejecting it.

      I personally believe that scientists do not so much "reject" ID as they don't even bother giving it any serious consideration at all. This is for a very straightforward reason: Even if a scientist pays the most scrupulous attention to every piece of research documented in the literature, he will not find a single study supporting ID creationism.

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    1. If mutations are truly random, then it can be shown mathematically that a mutated genetic sequence doesn't gain a prevalence of 100% throughout a large species unless its associated phenotype is somehow the most adaptive phenotype within that environment.

      You couldn't possibly be more wrong. It can be shown matematically that many alleles will be fixed in a finite population despite the fact that they confer no adaptive advantage. Please stop here and don't share any more "personal inclinations" and "strong beliefs" until you have read up on population genetics and related issues. Concentrate on these key phrases: random drift, (nearly) neutral evolution, genetic load, the onion test.

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