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October 26, 2005



one major difference, i imagine, is that scientific methodology can be tested. although we put our "faith" in the validity of peer review, there evidence is there to check if we so choose. Intelligent design advocates have no verifiable evidence of their own, they merely point out what they see to be incompleteness in the scientific data.

I, like you, am no scientist but what i do find deeply worrying, is the scepticism with which modern society treats science. Being critical is one thing - in the sense that you question everything that you are told - but we are too ready to believe unproven fantastical claims (insert whatever alternative treatment etc you like) ahead of that which is achieved by evidence based research.


2 books by Robert Nelson:

"Reaching for Heaven on Earth" and "Economics as Religion"

Most economics is taken on faith too...

Highly recommended....


The liberal secularists most likely to sneer at Creationists are usually Social Creationists themselves - denying vehemently what evolution tells us about social issues when it comes to human nature, sex differences etc.

Andrew Duffin

Next time you're arguing with creationists or ID types, ask them why they have an appendix, or five toes, or why a human embryo has gills and a tail at certain stages of development.

Should at least make them think...


All good points, but I'd like to complicate matters a bit if I may.

I think that the scientific "social proof" is somewhat different than the religious "social proof". The scientific consensus about evolution involves thousands of researchers from many different cultures around the world. This fact rules out the possibility of any conspiracy to decieve the general public, or the possibility that this belief is nothing more than indoctrination.

On the other hand, religious ideas tend towards fragmentation rather than consensus. Particular views tend to be held by small groups of experts, and these groups tend to come from the same culture.

Otherwise, it's one thing to have faith in science as Science and another to have faith in science as The Truth. Scientific theories are always tenative. Taken as science, evolution is simply the best explanation that we have currently developed for the data that we currently have (which includes much data collected specifically to disprove the theory of evolution).

To bring this back to the ID debate, if you want to know what science is, ask the scientists; if you want to know what religion is, ask a priest; if you want to know what Truth is, ask a philosopher and be prepared to get no answer.


If you haven't already, try reading Weber's lecture on "Science as a Vocation" where he deals with this very question. The twin lecture on "Politics as a Vocation" is also pretty interesting.


1st acknowledging, but repeating stu's points.

2nd At the risk of paraphrasing Richard Dawkins and JBS Haldane, proponents of ID/creationism, do not have any positive evidence except a book.
Believers in evolution have a mass of evidence which is constantly reviewed and updated - yes there are gaps in the fossil record, but the record does still play in the correct order - even with gaps. And if you can find the fossil of a 100-million year old rabbit, well, our theory is buggered, and I'd be prepared to accept that. Are creationist prepared to accept *any* criticism of their worldview?

Phil Hunt

But from my point of view, the difference is smaller. I'm trusting that scientists do use "scientific" methods - that they don't fiddle their results, that peer review actually works, and so on. I'm using faith, just as religious people do.

On the micro level, i.e. individual claims by individual scientists, that's true. But on the macro level it's not true, because science and engineering are demonstrably more effective than religion at manipulating forces of nature, and therefore have better claim to understanding nature.


Human backs don't work very well. That could be evolution or unintelligent design, but it couldn't be intelligent design. (Unless we're off to the world of "have faith" again.)


Persuading with Science. I believe that I once dissuaded someone who claimed that "intelligence is all nurture, not nature". I said that if she were right, children would always have the same IQ as their parents (perhaps the average of the two parents?) whereas she undoubtedly knew dim children of bright parents, and bright of dim. The necessary randomisation could come from nature but not from nurture. She said "why has no-one said that to me before?" and appeared persuaded. Mind you, in my experience it is impossible to dissuade anyone who believes that Einstein meant that it's all subjective, innit?


I'm all for perplexing ID believers with good questions like the ones about gills and tails above but there are tricky questions for evolutionists too, how you get eyes for example, the difficulty being that they do not become really useful until they are pretty complex and there isn't a good fossil record to describe the leap.

I'm firmly in the evolution camp partly by prejudice and partly because I'm more impressed by the argument but mostly because, despite Richard Dawkins I trust the scientists to take a good argument seriously whereas I suspect IDers of trying to pull a fast one in order to preserve a different authority so that they can tell me what to drink or who to have sex with. I'm not sure, for instance, why evolution and intelligent design are in conflict.

Dearieme, your nature/nurture argument may have worked and may lead to a correct conclusion but it is also flawed. It presupposes that parents are the only source of nurture and that IQ is the only important factor in nurturing.


"Mind you, in my experience it is impossible to dissuade anyone who believes that Einstein meant that it's all subjective, innit?"

And of course that's a (huge) misunderstanding of Einstein's science. Perhaps your rule should be something like 'views based on correctly understood science can be changed by correctly understood science'. Or the old rule that you can't use reason to argue someone out of a position they don't believe in for rational reasons. Someone who thinks relativity ensures or equals relativism doesn't have a rational basis for their belief.

"It presupposes that parents are the only source of nurture and that IQ is the only important factor in nurturing."

Their argument was *about* the effects of nurture on intelligence, not about the overall effects of nurture. Fair point with the first criticism, though.

Phil Hunt

Dearieme: """Human backs don't work very well. That could be evolution or unintelligent design, but it couldn't be intelligent design."""

Other examples that could be evolution or UD, but not ID are:

- testicles. These must be outside the body because they need low temperatures. Why? because evo/UD prevents them from working at body temperature

- women giving birth. Why does the birth canal have to go through the hips? Going through the stomach would be easier for an intelligent designer (but not for evolution).

- eyes. In humans the wiring for the eyes goes *in front* of the light sensors instead of behind them.

- flat fish ( http://www.cabalamat.org/weblog/art_224.html ) are obviously a product of evolution.

Katie Bartleby

Not to lower the tone, but female orgasms are another tricky one too. People have trouble finding an adaptive biological reason for them.

Katie Bartleby

Of course, ID has the answer: maybe God just likes us women.


Illyrian "It presupposes that parents are the only source of nurture and that IQ is the only important factor in nurturing." That's what my aquaintance seemed to believe so that was what I had to dissuade her from. You have to remember that (i)back in the 70s the nature v nurture debate (then called environment v heredity) took a pretty primitive view of each category, and (ii) the "heredity" people were arguing that both mattered while the "environment" people argued that ONLY environment mattered. Chumps.


Female orgasms have a lot of evolutionary sense to anyone who has ever looked at the lifestyle of bonobos or humans pre-Monotheism.

The difference between ID/Genesis and Evolution is really changes per generation. Every few years we get new insights into how evolution works (divergence and convergence, gene mutation, redundent genes, adaptive behaviour) but there's never anything new in Creationism.

Imagine we are told 3-3-4 is the best football formation. Then a team starts to play 1-4-1-2-2 and starts to win everything. We might start to question 3-3-4. When Johan Cruff did his turn, or Pele flicked the ball over his head and scored on the volley that was football evolution. Yet if we all believed you had to play 3-3-4 and had to pass on the ground to the nearest player, football would be dull. Creationists are merely like football coaches who can not adapt to the modern game.

Anhar Hussain Miah

Actually the "Bad Design" arguments back fires when one looks at it logically:

Premise (a)

(1a) If ID was true, then BAD design should not occur (assumption)

(2a) Since BAD Design occurs, therefore ID is false (conclusion, derived from (1a))

However! Because the exact same logic’s ALSO goes against Evolution theory:

Premise: (b)

(1b) Evolution uses random mutation, added with natural selection, the most optimal solution survives/more re-productive success, therefore a sub-optimal adaptation should not survive/ re-productive failure. (Assumption)

(2b) Since Sub-optimal adaptation exist, therefor evolutionary mechanism is false (conclusion, derived from (1b))

Logical Conclusion form both statements:

The assumption of “Bad Design” is a false assumption (because it applies to both Evolution and ID theory equally).

Anhar Hussain Miah

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