Science, Just Science

23 April 2007

ID’s Lack Of Scientific Merit

Filed under: Creationism & Intelligent Design,News,Science,SJS Comment — Kyuuketsuki @ 11:07 am

*** Originally posted by Tim Hague at SJS ***

I’m just having another read through the result of the Dover trial, and pulling a few bits and pieces out for further comment. I’m just cherry picking some of my favourite bits here, I thoroughly recommend reading the whole document… All quoted bits in italics are from Judge Jones.

ID (rebranded creationism) Is Religion

“Consider, to illustrate, that Professor Behe remarkably and unmistakably claims that the plausibility of the argument for ID depends upon the extent to which one believes in the existence of God.”

An astonishing admission from Behe this one. Basically, the more religious you are, the more plausible ID (rebranded creationism) seems, according to one of the two main ID (rebranded creationism) protagonists.

  • “It is notable that not one defence expert was able to explain how the supernatural action suggested by ID could be anything other than an inherently religious proposition.”

  • “The evidence at trial demonstrates that ID is nothing less than the progeny of creationism.”

  • “Moreover and as previously stated, there is hardly better evidence of ID’s relationship with creationism than an explicit statement by defence expert Fuller that ID is a form of creationism.”

  • “The overwhelming evidence at trial established that ID is a religious view, a mere re-labelling of creationism, and not a scientific theory.”

So, my ID (equals rebranded creationism) digs have been vindicated by Judge Jones. Thanks Judge! I will continue to put my disclaimer on ID (rebranded creationism) however, as I think it’s a useful exercise!

The Disclaimer

“In summary, the disclaimer singles out the theory of evolution for special treatment, misrepresents its status in the scientific community, causes students to doubt its validity without scientific justification, presents students with a religious alternative masquerading as a scientific theory, directs them to consult a creationist text as though it were a science resource, and instructs students to forego scientific inquiry in the public school classroom and instead to seek out religious instruction elsewhere.”

The judge summarises the ID (rebranded creationism) disclaimer that the school board said should be read before teaching evolution. Pretty good summary that!

“Introducing such a religious conflict into the classroom is “very dangerous” because it forces students to ‘choose between God and science,’ not a choice that schools should be forcing on them.”

And what this whole thing is all about.

ID (rebranded creationism) Is Not Science

“Having so concluded, we find it incumbent upon the Court to further address an additional issue raised by Plaintiffs, which is whether ID is science. To be sure, our answer to this question can likely be predicted based upon the foregoing analysis. While answering this question compels us to revisit evidence that is entirely complex, if not obtuse, after a six week trial that spanned twenty-one days and included countless hours of detailed expert witness presentations, the Court is confident that no other tribunal in the United States is in a better position than are we to traipse into this controversial area. Finally, we will offer our conclusion on whether ID is science not just because it is essential to our holding that an Establishment Clause violation has occurred in this case, but also in the hope that it may prevent the obvious waste of judicial and other resources which would be occasioned by a subsequent trial involving the precise question which is before us.”

The judge explains why he feels it necessary to rule on the “Is ID science?” question.

“…ID is not science. We find that ID fails on three different levels, any one of which is sufficient to preclude a determination that ID is science. They are: (1) ID violates the centuries-old ground rules of science by invoking and permitting supernatural causation; (2) the argument of irreducible complexity, central to ID, employs the same flawed and illogical contrived dualism that doomed creation science in the 1980’s; and (3) ID’s negative attacks on evolution have been refuted by the scientific community. As we will discuss in more detail below, it is additionally important to note that ID has failed to gain acceptance in the scientific community, it has not generated peer-reviewed publications, nor has it been the subject of testing and research.”

Another fantastic summary. The judge then goes into each of these points in some detail.

“It is notable that defence experts’ own mission, which mirrors that of the IDM itself, is to change the ground rules of science to allow supernatural causation of the natural world,”

Watch out Kansas: Redefining science to include non-natural explanations looks like it’s unconstitutional…

“William Dembski, for instance, an IDM leader, proclaims that science is ruled by methodological naturalism and argues that this rule must be overturned if ID is to prosper. (‘Indeed, entire fields of inquiry, including especially in the human sciences, will need to be rethought from the ground up in terms of intelligent design.’).”

Nice to see Dembski being used as a source, even if he did fail to testify.

“…every major scientific association that has taken a position on the issue of whether ID is science has concluded that ID is not, and cannot be considered as such.”……”Not a single expert witness over the course of the six week trial identified one major scientific association, society or organization that endorsed ID as science.”

Nobody thinks ID (rebranded creationism) is science apparently. Apart from the DI.

“ID is at bottom premised upon a false dichotomy, namely, that to the extent evolutionary theory is discredited, ID is confirmed.”…”ID proponents primarily argue for design through negative arguments against evolution,”…”However, we believe that arguments against evolution are not arguments for design. Expert testimony revealed that just because scientists cannot explain today how biological systems evolved does not mean that they cannot, and will not, be able to explain them tomorrow.”

How many times have we made this argument? I’ve lost count. It’s fantastic to see it in legal print though!

Irreducibly Complexity (IC)

I think this bit is highly relevant. As Dembski failed to testify, the ID (rebranded creationism) crowd may still have some faint hope that he can rescue them. However, all of Dembski’s work is based on Behe’s concept of IC…

“As referenced, the concept of irreducible complexity is ID’s alleged scientific centrepiece. Irreducible complexity is a negative argument against evolution, not proof of design, a point conceded by defence expert Professor Minnich.”…”Irreducible complexity additionally fails to make a positive scientific case for ID,”…”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.”…”As expert testimony revealed, the qualification on what is meant by “irreducible complexity” renders it meaningless as a criticism of evolution.”

“We therefore find that Professor Behe’s claim for irreducible complexity has been refuted in peer-reviewed research papers and has been rejected by the scientific community at large. Additionally, even if irreducible complexity had not been rejected, it still does not support ID as it is merely a test for evolution, not design.”

I’m not sure how Dembski is going to ‘mathematically prove’ his way out of the fact that IC is “…meaningless as a criticism of evolution”. It would take a hell of an equation, that’s for sure…

Design Detection

“It is readily apparent to the Court that the only attribute of design that biological systems appear to share with human artefacts is their complex appearance, i.e. if it looks complex or designed, it must have been designed.”…”Although both Professors Behe and Minnich assert that there is a quantitative aspect to the inference, on cross-examination they admitted that there is no quantitative criteria for determining the degree of complexity or number of parts that bespeak design, rather than a natural process.”

Where’s Dembski when you need him? The one person who might be able to provide a quantitative criteria is MIA. But, as just mentioned, Dembski’s equations are also based on the “meaningless” IC….

Attacks on Proper Science

“We find that such evidence demonstrates that the ID argument is dependent upon setting a scientifically unreasonable burden of proof for the theory of evolution.”

Too right. And which has always seemed very rich coming from a movement that provides no testable predictions whatsoever…

“Plaintiffs’ science experts, Drs. Miller and Padian, clearly explained how ID proponents generally and Pandas specifically, distort and misrepresent scientific knowledge in making their anti-evolution argument.”…”Accordingly, the one textbook to which the Dover ID Policy directs students contains outdated concepts and badly flawed science, as recognized by even the defence experts in this case.”

Again, very pleasing to see this in print. The scientific community are well aware that ID (rebranded creationism) spends most of time misrepresenting (lying about) science, the more people that become aware of that fact, the better.

ID (rebranded creationism) Is Still Not Science

“ID, as noted, is grounded in theology, not science. Accepting for the sake of argument its proponents’, as well as Defendants’ argument that to introduce ID to students will encourage critical thinking, it still has utterly no place in a science curriculum.”

Hoo-rah!

“Moreover, ID’s backers have sought to avoid the scientific scrutiny which we have now determined that it cannot withstand by advocating that the controversy, but not ID itself, should be taught in science class. This tactic is at best disingenuous, and at worst a canard. The goal of the IDM is not to encourage critical thought, but to foment a revolution which would supplant evolutionary theory with ID.”

Spot on. Shout it from the rooftops everybody – ID (rebranded creationism) wants to supplant evolution with religion.

Even Handed

“To conclude and reiterate, we express no opinion on the ultimate veracity of ID as a supernatural explanation.”

“To be sure, Darwin’s theory of evolution is imperfect.”

“With that said, we do not question that many of the leading advocates of ID have bona fide and deeply held beliefs which drive their scholarly endeavours. Nor do we controvert that ID should continue to be studied, debated, and discussed. As stated, our conclusion today is that it is unconstitutional to teach ID as an alternative to evolution in a public school science classroom.”

Again, it’s nice to see the Judge being even handed. He has not ruled that ID (rebranded creationism) should not be taught. He has not ruled that ID (rebranded creationism) is without merit. He has not ruled that the theory of evolution is without flaws and and cannot be questioned.

He has simply ruled that ID (rebranded creationism) is not science.

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