Friday, October 31, 2008

A Plethora of Pandas; Discovery Institute, Amicus Briefs, and Kitzmiller v. Dover

Dear Discovery Institute,

Today we will explore Appendix A from your Amicus brief filed in Kitzmiller V. Dover. This section is titled "Documentation showing that the scientific theory of intelligent design makes no claims about the identity or nature of the intelligent cause responsible for life". This page is taken right from your site, at . We will study it one section at a time.

From 1st paragraph:
Plaintiffs have falsely asserted that the scientific theory of intelligent design postulates a "supernatural" creator. In fact, the scientists and philosophers of science who have developed the theory of intelligent design have constistently maintained that the scientific evidence and the methods of design detection that they employ cannot establish whether the intelligent cause(s) responsible for life are inside or outside of nature.

Well, you're starting out with a problematic statement. First, if the people behind Intelligent Design argue that the "scientific evidence" for intelligent design cannot tell us "whether the intelligent cause(s) for life are inside or outside of nature", then how can one qualify intelligent design as science? Science has to be testable, and disprovable. If you cannot scientifically identify a designer in nature, then by the nature of science (under the Discovery Institute's preferred definition of science), that designer does not exist. However, this is only under the Wedge Document's preferred definition of science, which also allows for the incorporation of the supernatural into science. According to the Wedge Document definition, the Intelligent Designer must not exist because there is no proof for its existence that can give us a smoking gun to identify what it is. Under the mainstream definition of science, however, there is no such issue. Mainstream science takes the stance that supernatural causation is outside the realm of science, and therefore cannot be proven or disproven by science. Therefore, while mainstream science cannot disprove God, the Discovery Institute has pushed a view of science that would allow for the disproof of God's existence.

You may notice that I'm going a bit God-heavy in a discussion of a theory that the Discovery Institute claims makes no statement on what the cause of intelligent design is. This is because many of the mainstream ID proponents (such as Jonathan Wells and William Dembski)have no qualms whatsoever about identifying the "designer". Let's look quickly at a quote by Jonathan Wells that explains his motivation as a scientist:

" At the end of the Washington Monument rally in September, 1976, I was admitted to the second entering class at Unification Theological Seminary. During the next two years, I took a long prayer walk every evening. I asked God what He wanted me to do with my life, and the answer came not only through my prayers, but also through Father's many talks to us, and through my studies. Father encouraged us to set our sights high and accomplish great things.

He also spoke out against the evils in the world; among them, he frequently criticized Darwin's theory that living things originated without God's purposeful, creative activity. My studies included modern theologians who took Darwinism for granted and thus saw no room for God's involvement in nature or history; in the process, they re- interpreted the fall, the incarnation, and even God as products of human imagination.

Father's words, my studies, and my prayers convinced me that I should devote my life to destroying Darwinism, just as many of my fellow Unificationists had already devoted their lives to destroying Marxism. When Father chose me (along with about a dozen other seminary graduates) to enter a Ph.D. program in 1978, I welcomed the opportunity to prepare myself for battle. "

taken from

As readers of this blog should know, Jonathan Wells is one of the major supporters of Intelligent Design. Is it a coincidence that his mission to destroy Darwinism for God coincides with his involvement with Intelligent Design, judging from the Discovery Institute's Wedge Document, probably not, as evidenced by the following piece of the Wedge Document:

"The social consequences of materialism have been devastating. As symptoms, those consequences are certainly worth treating. However, we are convinced that in order to defeat materialism, we must cut it off at its source. That source is scientific materialism. This is precisely our strategy. If we view the predominant materialistic science as a giant tree, our strategy is intended to function as a "wedge" that, while relatively small, can split the trunk when applied at its weakest points. The very beginning of this strategy, the "thin edge of the wedge," was Phillip ]ohnson's critique of Darwinism begun in 1991 in Darwinism on Trial, and continued in Reason in the Balance and Defeatng Darwinism by Opening Minds. Michael Behe's highly successful Darwin's Black Box followed Johnson's work. We are building on this momentum, broadening the wedge with a positive scientific alternative to materialistic scientific theories, which has come to be called the theory of intelligent design (ID). Design theory promises to reverse the stifling dominance of the materialist worldview, and to replace it with a science consonant with Christian and theistic convictions. "
( )

So apparently ID is a tool that can overthrow materialistic science and "replace it with a science consonant with Christian and theistic convictions.". This wording is vague to the point that it is possible for the Discovery Institute to argue that the term "consonant" shows that ID proponents do not have a certain deity in mind when they use the term "Designer". However, statements such as that from Wells quoted above make that argument extremely weak. It is fairly obvious, that, whether implicitly or not, the Christian God is the Intelligent Designer.

Now, onto another quote from the Amicus brief:

"Intelligent Design theorists have written many technical articles which rely entire upon empirically-based arguments and make no appeal to the supernatural. Rather, technical literature explicating the scientific theory of intelligent design consistently uses observation-based scientific methods to detect the prior action of an unspecified designing intelligence"

First, it is obvious that the "unspecified designing intelligence" is the Christian God, as established above. Also, the claim that ID proponents have published peer-reviewed journal articles has been discussed on a previous blog ( ), so I won't waste my time re-discussing this subject here. On to another piece of the document, discussing religion:

"Theorists who have formulated the scientific theory of intelligent design have been consistent in stating that design theory does not postulate a supernatural creator, nor does it try to speculate on the basis of science about the nature or identity of the designing intelligence, even when writing before technical religious journals or popular religious audiences via religious publishing companies"

Well they're right here to a degree. Most of the claims that Intelligent Design supports the CHRISTIAN GOD are found in private documents such as the Wedge Document. However, some ID advocates (see Wells and Dembski) have been quite open in public about the religious nature of their work (Wells quote above). Now we'll look at a short statement from an interview by William Dembski:

"I believe God created the world for a purpose. The Designer of intelligent design is, ultimately, the Christian God.The focus of my writings is not to try to understand the Christian doctrine of creation; it’s to try to develop intelligent design as a scientific program.

There’s a big question within the intelligent design community: “How did the design get in there?” We’re very early in this game in terms of understanding the history of how the design got implemented. I think a lot of this is because evolutionary theory has so misled us that we have to rethink things from the ground up. That's where we are. There are lots and lots of questions that are now open to re-examination in light of this new paradigm.
( )

As is evident in this statement, it is clear that Dembski "knows" that the intelligent designer is none other than the Christian God. It is clear from this, among the other topics discussed in this blog, that the claims by the Amicus brief appendix in question are extremely vague in that they are technically accurate, but only in the most technical and exact reading. Any research deeper into the issue, especially the surrounding documents (besides articles published dealing SPECIFICALLY with Intelligent Design), shows us that intelligent design is nothing more or less than an attempt to once again develop a theory of Creation in the post Edwards v. Aguilard and Mclean v. Arkansas world.

The end of this segment of the brief deals with the textbook Of Pandas and People. While I have discussed Of Pandas and People previously, I think it is worth looking at this segment of the of the brief quickly. Consider the final paragraph of this document:

"Thus even while design theory was in its infant stages, the authors of Pandas made it explicitly clear that unlike creationism, design theory does not posit a supernatural creator and cannot establish the existence of such a creator using its methods of design detection."

This may be true for the most recent versions of Of Pandas and People, but older versions of the book, as shown through the Dover trial, prove that the authors of Pandas did have a specific designer in mind...the Christian God. Pandas was initially nothing less or more than a Creationist textbook. One final quote, comparing sections of Of Pandas and People as used in the Dover trial, and a previous version:

"Intelligent Design means that various forms of life began abruptly through an abrupt agency, with their distinctive features already intact--fish with fins and scales, birds with feathers, beaks, and wings, etc." (Of Pandas and People, Kenyon and Davis 1989)

"Creation means that the various forms of life began abruptly through the agency of an intelligent creator with their distinctive features already intact–fish with fins and scales, birds with feathers, beaks, and wings, etc." (Biology and Creation 1986, FTE 3015, p. 2-10)
(second quote taken from )

So clearly there is a Creationist heritage to Of Pandas and People. While the most recent versions of the text did not specifically identify the "designer", clearly this older version does. While it is still vague with regards to an exact identity of the Creator, judging from the fact that it was originally a Creationist textbook, it is apparent that the designer in question was the Christian God.

Clearly, this amicus brief is not as innocent as it appears. Judging from the evidence presented in this blog, there is much more to the Discovery Institute than meets the eye from this amicus brief. It leads one to question the validity of other documents published by the institute.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

logical fallacies and Intelligent Design

Dear Discovery Institute,

Tonight we will explore a few more discrepencies in your science program. This post will add to some of my earlier discussions of your scientific claims. If you read some of my earlier blogs on here, you'll know that the whole "irreducible complexity" argument is essentially bogus. In previous blogs, I've addressed your stance (or lack thereof) on transitional fossils, highlighted errors in Behe's irreducible complexity, lampooned your complete lack of scientific peer reviewed journal articles, etc. Today, we're going to focus on other questions. First, where exactly does "design" take place in life? Is it everywhere where there is a gap in the fossil record? Is it at the origin of life (which means that evolution actually is a perfectly valid theory, and therefore, that your claim of Intelligent Design as an alternative to Darwinism is totally flawed; evolution happens regardless of a theory of abiogenesis. More on this later), or at some magic, undefined moment. Also, do you really believe that the "fine tuning" argument is a good argument for design in the universe? I will address both of these topics below.

So, where does design occur during the history of life? Is it truly wherever there is a gap or a massive shift in the fossil record? Is it at the moment of speciation? Is it at the origin of life? The first option, anywhere where there is a gap in the fossil record, is truly problematic for your theory. It necessitates a highly incompetent designer who must constantly meddle in its' creation by intervening to alter the course of life. This view is not any different than special creation, except that it makes even less sense. At least the argument from special creation tends to argue that God created all life in a week, and after the Flood, life on earth "evolved" from the "kinds" saved on the Ark. So at this point, if you are advocating for "Design" at every gap in the fossil record, you are pushing an even less scientific theory than Young Earth Creationism. The same is true for speciation. If the designer is constantly meddling in the development of life on earth, then how can we know anything about evolution (even microevolution)? Why not claim that microevolution is a sign of the designer at work? You are pushing a wholly unscientific idea here with this argument, if you choose to take this stance.

If you take the stance that "design" occurred at the origin of life, with the "creation" of DNA,then you are pushing a theory of abiogenesis, not a viable alternative to evolutionary theory. Evolutionary theory takes no stand on the origin of life; natural selection only works on living, reproducing organisms. It cannot "create life from nothing". Life could have originated from a dropping left by my dog in the backyard yesterday (ignore the obvious logical fallacies there; I'm not proposing that argument as valid, but as an example), and even that would have no bearing whatsoever on natural selection and evolution in general. "Darwinism" is essentially the study of evolution by Natural Selection. If you are attempting to refute natural selection by proposing a theory of abiogenesis, that just won't work. Abiogenesis has no bearing on evolution. Sure, they're related, but science does not need a theory of abiogenesis for evolutionary theory to work.

Even in these two short paragraphs, the logical fallacies behind Intelligent Design are relatively easy to see. First off, you guys can't even provide us with a smoking gun for "Design happened THERE". If you argue that it happened at gaps in the fossil record, then your theory is already dead, both constitutionally and scientifically, as Creationism. If you argue that the moment of design happened at the origin of life, then you are not even providing evidence against Darwinism, or Natural Selection. The entire claim that Intelligent Design is a viable scientific alternative to Natural Selection is thus laid bare as the rubbish that it is. Come on guys! You can do better than this. If Intelligent Design is a valid alternative to Darwinism, then calling the origin of life the moment of design does not work, at which point, you must be referring to gaps in the fossil record as moments of design. Essentially then, we are looking at a theory of Special ID as Creationism in disguise. Is it possible that you are just being overly vague because you don't have a scientific leg to stand on? Judging from my research, it seems that this is the case.

One last quick discussion. You guys seem quite fond of the argument that, since there is life on Earth, the universe must be designed for life. This argument makes the case that the laws that allow life as we know it to exist are so exact, that they could not have arisen by chance. This argument, while sounding convincing at first, is completely and totally false. If the laws of the universe were different, we wouldn't exist as we do. That is a good point. However, have you ever thought of the fact that since the laws of the universe are what we observe today, life originated as something that could survive in this particular "environment", and also was shaped through evolution by these laws? The laws of the universe are not evidence of a designer designing the universe so we could come into existence, but rather, evidence of the existence of the universe. You guys are either directly and purposely misleading the public, or are failing to fully understand this argument, by using the "fine tuning" argument as evidence for design.

To conclude this short post, we have seen A) that Intelligent Design itself, as an alternative to "Darwinism" does not have a leg to stand on, especially due to the inability of ID proponents to pinpoint moments of design, and B)that the "fine-tuned" argument for design is irresponsible, weak, and misleading. For the amount of money spent by the Discovery Institute in publicity, one would expect a much stronger scientific basis for the claims of this Institute and its members. Maybe we're looking at an attempt to forge a cultural revolution, rather than a scientific revolution, after all. The Wedge Document suggests that the Discovery Institute's goal is a return to a society based on Christian ideals. It suggests Intelligent Design as a "scientific" way to achieve this goal. Judging from the lack of science behind Intelligent Design, is it possible that the ID movement is a distraction meant to raise doubts in modern science and thus make it possible to achieve social change? Judging the nature off publicity stunts such as Expelled, one can infer that it really isn't about the science. Judging from the Wedge Document and the behavior of the Discovery Institute in general, it appears that the "scientific" endeavors of the Discovery Institute's Center for Science and Culture are nothing more than an attempt to push a specific religious agenda, that agenda being Christianity. The evidence is there; Intelligent Design appears to be nothing more than a psuedoscientic idea concieved to push a religious agenda. As evidenced in this post, the other posts on this blog, and through the work of the scientific community in general, INTELLIGENT DESIGN IS NOT SCIENCE.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

So Discovery Institute does, indeed, support Expelled.

Dear Discovery Institute,

Judging from a recent article on your website (, titled "Expelled, Why it Matters", it appears that you support the film Expelled. Judging from that fact, I assume that you accept the many inaccuracies within the film as well. As the inaccuracies with the film have been touched by both this blog and other sites (see also and , both of these sites show the movie to be extremely flawed with regards to accuracy), I will not deal with those inaccuracies here. However, your support of this film raises even more questions about your integrity as an institution; how can one trust anything that comes through your press machine, especially with all the inaccuracies we've already discussed throughout the course of this blog? Let's discuss "Expelled, Why it Matters". We'll begin with your question:

"Why is Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed so important to the mission of Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture and how can you join in our work to defend academic freedom?"

The answer to this question is obvious; it supports Wedge Strategy by pitting science against religion, makes it appear that all scientists who accept evolution are atheists, and compares scientists to Nazis. This serves to visually smear the scientific community in general, regardless of the fact that many of the claims made in the film are either flawed or dead wrong.

"Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed documents the plight of scientists and scholars who dare to question the claims of Darwinian evolution. Discovery Institute's Center for Science and Culture exists to support research and writing by scientists who are questioning Darwin, to defend their academic freedom, and to expose efforts by Darwinists to shut down free speech. "

But the scientists that the film claim were "expelled" for anti-evolution actions were actually fired for other reasons (see ) for discussion of this. If scientists are punished for arguing against "Darwinism", then why do Lynn Margilus and William Schopf still have jobs? Oh yeah, I forgot...they're doing science, not psuedoscience. Think ID is science? It invokes supernatural causation, which science cannot do; science can say nothing of the supernatural, either in favor or against supernatural causation. ID is not science. That is beside the point, however. The scientists that "Expelled" claims were fired for supporting ID were canned for other reasons; for example, Gonzalez did not recieve tenure due to a heavy decline in papers published and graduate students attracted. Sternberg was fired for violating peer-review policy at his journal when he personally reviewed a pro-Intelligent Design article focusing on paleontology that he was not qualified to review. Are these people being persecuted? No. They weren't doing their jobs, so of course they got fired. Would you keep a guy on staff that you hired to clean your toilets if the only thing he does is re-organize your book collection? Of course not!

"We need your help to continue and expand our efforts as persecution increases. A donation of any amount will be greatly appreciated and will help us as we work on behalf of persecuted scholars and scientists"

So you're turning this into an attempt to recieve donations. Would this money truly fund efforts to protect "persecuted scholars and scientists", or would it be used to attack the firing of people that aren't doing their job? Are these scientists persecuted, or were they fired because they did not fulfill job requirements? I believe you'll find that the 2nd possibility is the correct one.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Ben Stein is a liar

Dear Discovery Institute,

Ben Stein is a liar. As are all individuals involved in producing the film "Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed". I was, unfortunately (for I lament the money I wasted and put into Ben Stein's pockets...more on that later) able to see the film earlier this week. As discussed earlier, Dawkins was quoted nicely out of context, and this is explained in an earlier blog. That wasn't even an issue comparably however.

First, apparently all scientists are atheists, or so the film seems to tell us. The only scientists they show are known atheists, and are shown saying that they are. The filmmakers ignore the 40% of scientists who are actually deeply religious. And apparently all scientists are Nazis; whenever mainstream evolutionary theorists are shown, they are shown connected to images of Nazis. This leads to a deeply offensive point. Not to mention the fact that the film messes up when it claims eugenics was based on Darwinism (it was based on Social Darwinism, not Darwinism), Ben Stein first tells us that he is Jewish, then continues to film in a room where Holocaust victims were systematically murdered in an attempt to make a political statement and show that scientists were behind the Holocaust. What offended me most was not the implied idea that scientists are behind the Holocaust, but rather that Stein had the gall and total lack of respect for his own religion that allowed him to attempt to use Holocaust victims to make a political statement. YOU DO NOT USE HOLOCAUST VICTIMS TO MAKE A POLITICAL STATEMENT. This is both deeply disrespectful and also extremely insulting.

It gets even better from here. Stein makes a point to misquote Darwin. Here's the statement he used from Darwin's Descent of Man:

"With savages, the weak in body or mind are soon eliminated. We
civilized men, on the other hand, do our utmost to check the process of
elimination. We build asylums for the imbecile, the maimed and the sick,
thus the weak members of civilized societies propagate their kind. No one
who has attended to the breeding of domestic animals will doubt that this
must be highly injurious to the race of man. Hardly anyone is so ignorant as
to allow his worst animals to breed."

This leaves the viewer thinking "wow, Darwin was horrible and supported eugenics". However, that is not the complete quote. Here is the part of the passage left out by Stein:

"The aid which we feel impelled to give to the helpless is mainly an
incidental result of the instinct of sympathy, which was originally acquired as
part of the social instincts, but subsequently rendered, in the manner
previously indicated, more tender and more widely diffused. Nor could we check
our sympathy, if so urged by hard reason, without deterioration in the noblest
part of our nature."

Funny; it's almost as if Ben Stein were trying to quote-mine in order to make his position more defendable. What is even more hilarious is when he brings "scientists who were fired for ID" onto the film. The following website (where the Darwin quotes were pasted from; I checked the passages in my copy of The Descent of Man; they're correct) contains a good rebutal for those claims, so I won't do it here.

Even funnier is the attempt to set up a battle between science and religion within the film, right along the lines of Wedge Strategy. Thus, the ID proponents on the film are shown as Christian martyrs who are falling victim to the Evil Empire called Science. This is not the case; the movie is complete rubbish (and the filmmaking itself is horrible as well...but that's besides the point). Anyone familiar with the Wedge Strategy and Discovery Institute can see your fingerprints all over the film.

So if anyone reading this wants to kill a few brain cells, see Ben Stein's "Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed". The title says it all, as no intelligent individual with a background in this topic can sit through the film without being majorly upset by the huge number of lies pushed by the film. A five-year-old with a camera phone could have made a better, more informative film than this one.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Richard Dawkins

Dear Discovery Institute,

Today's letter will be a brief one. I was looking through your website, and on your front page, you are promoting an article titled "Is Richard Dawkins a Raelian?" ( ) This short blog will highlight the problems with this article.

"This is rich: Richard Dawkins--whose official website claims modestly to be "a clear thinking oasis"--made an incredible statement in the new movie Expelled, asserting that it is "an intriguing possibility" that space aliens "seeded" life here on Planet Earth. (I haven't seen the movie, but did obtain this partial transcript. The emphasis is mine.)"

First problem: we're supposed to listen to this guy who hasn't even seen the film talk about it? Anyway, that's not major comparably, so I'll let it go for now. However, anyone familiar with the works of Richard Dawkins would know that he often jokingly raises the possibility of life being designed by "intelligent aliens", then goes on to explain how it is not a true scientific argument because it just moves the question of causality from life to the aliens. This article, however, makes it look like Dawkins, a known athiest, actually believes this.

"DAWKINS:Nobody knows how it got started. We know the kind of event that it must have been. We know the sort of event that must have happened for the origin of life.
BEN STEIN:And what was that?
DAWKINS:It was the origin of the first self-replicating molecule.
BEN STEIN:Right, and how did that happen?
DAWKINS:I told you, we don't know"

Here, we see Stein questioning Dawkins on the origin of life. Fact is that scientists do not even need an origin of life theory for evolution to work; evolution by natural selection requires living forms to act upon. The film, however, apparently makes the case (like much of the ID movement) that the lack of a universally accepted origin of life theory debunks evolution. It doesn't. Evolution and abiogenesis are closely related. However, they are not one in the same. This fact shows the lack of credibility behind the ID movement as a whole; it shows that they don't even know what they're arguing against as a science.

"BEN STEIN:What do you think is the possibility that Intelligent Design might turn out to be the answer to some issues in genetics or in evolution.
DAWKINS:Well, it could come about in the following way. It could be that at some earlier time, somewhere in the universe, a civilization evolved, probably by some kind of Darwinian means, probably to a very high level of technology, and designed a form of life that they seeded onto perhaps this planet. Now, um, now that is a possibility, and an intriguing possibility. And I suppose it's possible that you might find evidence for that if you look at the details of biochemistry, molecular biology, you might find a signature of some sort of designer.

Ho,ho! That is precisely what the Raelians say:
Years ago, everybody knew that the earth was flat. Everybody knew that the sun revolved around the earth. Today, everybody knows that life on earth is either the result of random evolution or the work of a supernatural God. Or is it? In "Message from the Designers", Rael presents us with a third option: that all life on earth was created by advanced scientists from another world"

The problem with this statement is as follows: Ben Stein asks a question which makes Dawkins give a possible origin-of-life scenario based on Intelligent Design. It is apparent that Dawkins was most likely quoted out of context here; anyone familiar with his writings would see that he means this statement to be cynical/mocking towards Intelligent Design. Why not let Dawkins explain his perspective himself? Consider the following quote:

"Another example. Toward the end of his interview with me, Stein asked whether I could think of any circumstances whatsoever under which intelligent design might have occurred. It's the kind of challenge I relish, and I set myself the task of imagining the most plausible scenario I could. I wanted to give ID its best shot, however poor that best shot might be. I must have been feeling magnanimous that day, because I was aware that the leading advocates of Intelligent Design are very fond of protesting that they are not talking about God as the designer, but about some unnamed and unspecified intelligence, which might even be an alien from another planet. Indeed, this is the only way they differentiate themselves from fundamentalist creationists, and they do it only when they need to, in order to weasel their way around church/state separation laws. So, bending over backwards to accommodate the IDiots ("oh NOOOOO, of course we aren't talking about God, this is SCIENCE") and bending over backwards to make the best case I could for intelligent design, I constructed a science fiction scenario. Like Michael Ruse (as I surmise) I still hadn't rumbled Stein, and I was charitable enough to think he was an honestly stupid man, sincerely seeking enlightenment from a scientist. I patiently explained to him that life could conceivably have been seeded on Earth by an alien intelligence from another planet (Francis Crick and Leslie Orgel suggested something similar -- semi tongue-in-cheek). The conclusion I was heading towards was that, even in the highly unlikely event that some such 'Directed Panspermia' was responsible for designing life on this planet, the alien beings would THEMSELVES have to have evolved, if not by Darwinian selection, by some equivalent 'crane' (to quote Dan Dennett). My point here was that design can never be an ULTIMATE explanation for organized complexity. Even if life on Earth was seeded by intelligent designers on another planet, and even if the alien life form was itself seeded four billion years earlier, the regress must ultimately be terminated (and we have only some 13 billion years to play with because of the finite age of the universe). Organized complexity cannot just spontaneously happen. That, for goodness sake, is the creationists' whole point, when they bang on about eyes and bacterial flagella! Evolution by natural selection is the only known process whereby organized complexity can ultimately come into being. Organized complexity -- and that includes everything capable of designing anything intelligently -- comes LATE into the universe. It cannot exist at the beginning, as I have explained again and again in my writings.

This 'Ultimate 747' argument, as I called it in The God Delusion, may or may not persuade you. That is not my concern here. My concern here is that my science fiction thought experiment -- however implausible -- was designed to illustrate intelligent design's closest approach to being plausible. I was most emphaticaly NOT saying that I believed the thought experiment. Quite the contrary. I do not believe it (and I don't think Francis Crick believed it either). I was bending over backwards to make the best case I could for a form of intelligent design. And my clear implication was that the best case I could make was a very implausible case indeed. In other words, I was using the thought experiment as a way of demonstrating strong opposition to all theories of intelligent design.

(taken from,2394,Lying-for-Jesus,Richard-Dawkins).

So apparently the Discovery Institute actually promotes academic dishonesty. This leads to a whole new level of credibility issues. As shown by this blog, as with many of the blogs on this page, the Discovery Institute and the ID movement are not to be trusted. The Discovery Institute itself continues to come across as a dishonest organization, a very dishonest organization indeed.

PS. While you may argue that the linked article is an anomaly, here's another article showing your basis of dishonesty (and also the fact that Dawkins was forced to resort to sneaking into a showing of the film to see the film that HE was interviewed in)

"Ben Stein has him on camera acknowledging that life on Earth may, indeed, have been intelligently designed, but that it had to have been accomplished by space aliens! This is hilarious, of course, because Dawkins is death on intelligent design. But it turns out that that view applies only if it includes the possibility that the designer might be God."

(taken from

Someone is obviously being dishonest here, and judging from my knowledge of Dawkins' claims, and also his response to the film, I would say that it isn't Dawkins. The Discovery Institute has been shown to be dishonest on here before, so why not repeat the pattern? Besides, misquotation is Creationist tactic #1. It would make sense for the Discovery Institute to engage in the practice.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

cdesign proponentist

Dear Discovery Institute,

Today we will be discussing my personal favorite transitional form, Cdesign proponentist. This organism falls between "Creationist" and "Design Proponent". First discovered in 2005, Cdisign proponentist was a major player in the Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District trial. This organism was discovered in a draft of the textbook suppliment that you actually support, "Of Pandas and People". This transitional form occured as the book was being changed from a Creationist textbook supplement to an "Intelligent-Design"-based textbook suppliment.

Cdesign proponentist is a transitional form that proves that Intelligent Design arose from Creation Science. In fact, one could argue the point that this organism is proof that Creationists are, in fact, evolving. As for Michael Behe, if a stack of textbooks proving the evolvability of the bacterial flagellum is not enough to demonstrate the validity of evolution at this level, Cdesign proponentist must at least be sufficient to prove that evolution does, in fact, occur at least at some level.

Why are we talking about Cdesign proponentist right now? I was kind of hoping that Ben Stein would include this transitional form in his film "Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed". However, as with any film that an individual is interviewed to be in, and subsequently blocked from viewing the film, I strongly question the validity of its claims. Oh well, I guess I probably won't be allowed to see it either, because I accept evolution and see Intelligent Design for what it really is (as shown by Cdesign proponentists).

Well let's take a look at your Wedge strategy for a bit. The Wedge Document sets up ID in 3 phases. Now that you have created your own "research" programs (funded by yourself, and not supported by the scientific community), it appears that you are in phase 2 of the Wedge Strategy (publicity). Stein's documentary falls right in with that process. However, given your governing goals for spiritual and cultural renewal, and the fact that A) you've been pushing Stein's documentary and B) Answers in Genesis was allowed to see it but scientists interviewed within the film were not, it seems to me that there are questions in the air with regards to credibility of the film. Go ahead and show it; anyone with an ounce of intelligence will see through what you're trying to do.

It may serve the reader of this blog to have the Discovery Institute's goals for spiritual and cultural renewal posted in this blog, so I will post them below:

"5. Spiritual & cultural renewal:

* Mainline renewal movements begin to appropriate insights from design theory, and to repudiate theologies influenced by materialism

* Major Christian denomination(s) defend(s) traditional doctrine of creation & repudiate(s)

* Darwinism Seminaries increasingly recognize & repudiate naturalistic presuppositions

* Positive uptake in public opinion polls on issues such as sexuality, abortion and belief in God "

This looks like Creationism. Thanks to the discovery of Cdesign proponentist, I think we have the smoking gun proof of this evolutionary linaeage.

Monday, March 31, 2008

Answers in Genesis Gets Expelled.

Dear Discovery Institute,

Today we will be referencing Ben Stein's documentary "Expelled". It is ironic that Answers in Genesis, a Young-Earth Creationist-run website, has posted a review of the documentary, especially since you have worked so hard to distance yourself from self-proclaimed Creationists. Let's look at the review:

"Several weeks ago, the Answers in Genesis (AiG) staff was treated to a viewing of the director’s cut of the already-controversial film Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed.1 Expected to release April 18, Expelled is a hard-hitting, yet often humorous, documentary that chronicles how Darwin-dissenters have been ruthlessly expelled, or otherwise persecuted, in their professions. It is hosted by the very entertaining civil rights activist/economist/presidential speechwriter/cultural icon (actor and quiz-show host), Ben Stein, whom filmmakers follow as he goes on a personal quest to examine the origins question."

Answers in Genesis merits a special viewing even though you claim to want to distance yourself from so-called Creation Scientists? This is ironic. It seems like you're opening your doors to them. But then again, one of your fellows (Dean Kenyon) appears to have the support of Answers in Genesis to some degree, and also defended the validity of Creation Science in a court case (see my earlier blog discussing this). Something is a bit fishy here.

"In another segment, Michael Shermer, head of the Skeptics Society, described Intelligent Design (ID) as mostly nonsense and would not come to the defense of fellow-evolutionist Sternberg. Shermer bizarrely contends that Sternberg must have done something wrong to have been forced out (even though Shermer admits on camera that he did not know what that might have been).

An hour and thirty minutes later, we watch atheist Dawkins sniff that evolution is a “fact” and “securely” so, and thus dissenters are either not sane or are stupid—or (somewhat more charitably) ignorant. In keeping with the film’s ongoing Cold War metaphors of freedom under attack, Dawkins, earlier in the film, describes the origins debate as a “skirmish” and a “war.”"

What is not mentioned here is the fact that scientists interviewed for this documentary were not told of the nature of the documentary. Therefore, while scientists such as Richard Dawkins were interviewed for this film, they were not told that the film was a defense of Intelligent Design, but rather that was an attempt to equally portray both sides of the debate. What is telling about this is the fact that Dawkins had to sneak into the film in order to actually see it, which immediately leads one to question the accuracy/honesty of the film makers.,2394,Lying-for-Jesus,Richard-Dawkins

"At film’s end, Dawkins makes a remarkable concession—probably jaw-dropping for those who have read his books or watched his media interviews. When pressed by Stein, Dawkins allows for the possibility that life’s apparent design could have been produced by intelligent beings elsewhere in the universe—who themselves had evolved and then brought life here! "

This is not remarkable to anyone familiar to Dawkins' work. Richard Dawkins often makes the claim that life could have been created by intelligent aliens, then goes on to explain that this is not science because it only shifts the question of causality instead of attempting to answer it. This is a beautiful example of misquotation on the part of either the Discovery Institute/Ben Stein or Answers in Genesis.

"In the second half of the film, Expelled settles into a very serious tone, especially in those scenes when Stein visits World War II death camps and explores the connection between the Nazi worldview and Darwinian thinking. Stein is brilliant in these scenes as he goes with the flow of the story as it unfolds in front of him and as he carefully listens to the answers he receives—and then follows up with penetrating questions. He is obviously not working from a tight script."

Here it is. This is the commonly used Creationist tactic of claiming that Darwinian theory is responsible for Hitler's racist policies. This statement ignores the fact that Hitler used a massively twisted version of Darwinian evolution in an attempt to support his ideas (a version that is not accepted by mainstream scientists), and also the fact that Hitler also used Bible passages to give legitimacy to his cause. This shows that the Discovery Institute/Ben Stein, much like Answers in Genesis, have not done their historical research here.

"Expelled asks the question often posed by creation scientists: where does the new genetic information come from as a mechanism to drive molecules-to-man evolution? Natural selection cannot explain the rise of new genetic information."

So there is at least some connection, even though Answers in Genesis does not agree with all of Intelligent is a statement where the connection between Intelligent Design and Creationism slips through the cracks and is thus visible.

"AiG has not been sanguine about elements of the intelligent design movement and some of its well-intentioned activists. But having watched the movie twice now, we note that the film is not about trying to push ID on society, much less argue that ID should be mandated in schools (which AiG would not support).7 Also, the film makes it clear that the ID movement is not a Christian one (although many evangelicals are part of it). More than anything, the documentary seeks to expose the ruthlessness of radical atheists and evolutionists and their attempt to erode freedom in order to protect their own worldview. In its goal, Expelled has marvelously succeeded."

Here, we see Answers in Genesis arguing that they don't accept Intelligent Design in its entirity. However, Answers in Genesis appears to agree with at least some of the tenets of Intelligent Design, and also supports the goals of this film.

Now, the question is whether this showcases a tie between Creation Science and Intelligent Design. On its own, the viewing of Expelled by Answers in Genesis could be seen as an attempt to pick up on alternative perspectives for the film. However, both the fact that mainstream scientists such as Richard Dawkins had to sneak into a showing of the film to have a chance to view a film that they themselves were interviewed in raises questions about the legitimacy of the film. The connections between Creation Science and Intelligent Design already present within these blogs also bolsters the link between the Creationist movement and the ID movement. While this document does not prove that Creationism and Intelligent Design are linked, as another piece of evidence to add to our wedge attacking the claim that ID is not Creationism, it serves to streghten the proofs presented thus far.