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In which I finally reply to Steve Fuller

Well, now that the Steve Fuller thread is over 160 comments long, this little response of mine is going to be a big anticlimax, I’m afraid.  I thought that by posting Steve’s reply to me, I could play host to a discussion of science studies and ID while I put the finishing touches on the ms of Rhetorical Occasions (I mailed off the ms yesterday.  Woo hoo).  But that discussion quickly outpaced my ability to contribute to it—and my reply to Steve’s original reply is going to look pretty thin as a result.  Nevertheless, I promised, so here goes.

Steve’s argument in Dover seems to me to take a very interesting path to a wrong conclusion.  Partly by way of a Popperian critique of Kuhn, and partly by way of a deft juggling of Reichenbach’s distinction between the “context of discovery” and the “context of justification,” Fuller establishes two premises: one, that scientific communities organized under a dominant paradigm work to exclude alternative theories and methods, and two, that many scientists have understood their work as integral to their religious belief.  Hence his invocation of Newton:

ID deserves space less for what it’s done recently than as a representative of the main counter-tradition in the history of science to the one represented nowadays by Neo-Darwinism.  This counter-tradition’s standard bearer is not Paley, of watch-on-the-beach fame, but Isaac Newton who believed he had gotten inside of God’s mind. One cannot underestimate the heuristic value of this belief in the history of science, not only in physics but also in computer science and of course genetics (sometimes with disastrous consequences).

Now, you can read Newton’s breakthroughs by way of the context in which Newton himself understood them (this is an entirely legitimate hermeneutic enterprise), and you’ll get some truly strange results: as I understand it, Newton saw physics not only as a means of access to God’s mind but also as being of a piece with his work on alchemy.  This is great stuff for the historian or philosopher of science; physicists, by contrast, couldn’t care less about whether Newton saw his laws of motion as being related to alchemy or astrology or a flying spaghetti monster.  By and large, later physicists came to Newton for the mechanics, and didn’t stick around for the alchemy.

In other words, from one angle it matters that Newton (or Galileo, or Darwin, or anyone) believed that his work was informed by (or, indeed, proof of) the existence of a Deity; from another angle, it doesn’t.  Fuller’s argument, as I read it, subtly substitutes one angle for another at a critical juncture, on the way to the conclusion that “the fact that contemporary ID is not well-supported by research matters much less to me than its potential for inspiring new directions in the scientific imagination.” This seems to me to argue that Newton’s context of discovery provides support for ID’s context of (eventual) justification: many scientists believed their work was tied to their belief in God, so ID advocates’ belief in God might well inspire new research.  In comments, Brian Ogilvie seems to me to have nailed the problem with this: “[Newton and Galileo] rejected the scholastic notion of ‘double truth.’ So, too, do defenders of Intelligent Design, but my hypothesis is that they place revelation before reason: hence they emphasize on the shortcomings of contemporary natural science rather than focusing their energies on developing a competing empirical research program.”

Most of Fuller’s Dover testimony is pretty fascinating stuff, and I can’t pretend to be able to comment on every twist and turn through the history and philosophy of science.  But the end of the argument ultimately assumes what it needs to prove, namely, that ID is capable of generating real scientific research, and that its research could be tested by means of scientific methods that are not specific to any one paradigm.  Steve compresses the argument neatly in one of his comments on Monday:

If [we] judged scientific theories by what we think of what motivates them, then we wouldn’t have much science left. This is why it’s important to distinguish the contexts of discovery and justification: ID can be as religiously motivated as you like.

Folks, he’s entirely right about this.  And while we’re talking about “contexts of discovery,” I might add that he’s also right about the fact that a philosopher of science can have a more synoptic view of science (and the distinction between science and non-science) than a working scientist, who may be devoting herself full-time to developing a research program and who may not care about the history of her field, or about whether one of her illustrious precedessors saw his work as being part and parcel of his theory that the cosmos is ruled by angry, invisible dogs.  (Note that I’m careful here to say “can” and “may.” I don’t want to suggest that nonscientists necessarily have a clearer view of science—that would be silly.  And by the bye, I mean “research program” in the Lakatosian, open-ended sense (also employed by Ian Hacking in The Social Construction of What?), the one Steve invokes when he writes, “Scientific revolutions typically involve the updating and reinvention of defunct ideas—intellectual history’s Undead that never quite got put down. These often appear as ‘conceptual problems’ that don’t go away but get excused because the dominant theory is so empirically successful.” He’s right about this too.) But then Fuller immediately follows all this rightness with (what I think is) this profound wrongness:

What matters is whether it can be developed, criticised and tested without having the motives. And the answer is yes.

I just don’t see it.  Honestly.  I’m not seeing ID’s potential for being developed, criticized and tested, at least not by any means I’m aware of.  Steve insists that I’m not seeing it because the field is still too young, and I think it’s because the field simply doesn’t have a research program of any kind.

Now, back to my original question, which had to do with how Fuller could blurb Nanda’s book, writing that this “first detailed examination of postmodernism’s politically reactionary consequences should serve as a wake-up call for all conscientious leftists,” and then show up in Dover to provide a philosophy-of-science justification for a politically reactionary movement. 

I had two aims in raising this question.  One was simply polemical: to point out how very, very sloppily “postmodern” gets thrown around as a catchall term of abuse in philosophy-of-science debates (and, indeed, everywhere else).  One effect of this throwing-around is that some worthy social-constructionist babies get thrown out with the bathwater, so to speak, just as Gross and Levitt used some truly unsupported and unsupportable claims by people ranging from Stanley Aronowitz to Sandra Harding to Jeremy Rifkin in such a way as to delegitimate a whole wide swath of science studies.  (For the record, my short-version position on the Sokal Hoax is basically that of John Brenkman, who said, “The parody itself, it seems to me, was brilliant, but Sokal’s explanation in Lingua Franca of what he’d done makes two massive claims, neither of which I think is true: On the one hand, that the whole of cultural studies is a morass of relativism and confused logic and lack of interest in empirical reality, and on the other hand, that we should espouse a very narrow realist position on the nature of scientific inquiry—which puts him out of tune with mainstream philosophy of science.” To which philosopher of science David Albert replied, “that’s right.  The character of the opposition (if there is one) between mainstream analytic philosophy of science and science studies or cultural studies attitudes towards science doesn’t seem to me to be helpfully characterized in terms of a disagreement about the philosophical propositions like realism or anything like that.” See The Sokal Hoax: The Sham that Shook the Academy, 253-54.) The other effect, of course, is that the history of postmodernism (and intense debates over postmodernism on the left) since 1980 gets obliterated, as postmodernism becomes a synonym for obscurantist bullshit.  About that I will simply say this.  Anyone who persists in using postmodernism as a synonym for obscurantist bullshit on this bullshit-free blog will be directed to the work of Andreas Huyssen and made to stay in their room until he or she has read issues 22 and 33 of New German Critique. You have been warned.

My longer-term aim was to raise yet again the broader question of theory’s relation to politics—or, I should say, “theory”’s relation to “politics.” While (as I said) I’m largely sympathetic to Nanda’s argument about how the BJP has found in postmodern anti-universalism a convenient support for Hindu fundamentalism (and in What’s Liberal About the Liberal Arts, I have my own argument about why so much of the academic left developed a kind of fetishistic relation to “local knowledges,” as if these were always a matter of supporting the independent organic-produce market against Wal-Mart), I know also that the religious right’s opportunism knows no bounds, and ideas sometimes wind up in strange places.  At some moments it pleases the religious right to appeal to postmodern anti-universalism, and at other moments it pleases the religious right to insist that moral laws are observer-independent and immutable.  Go figure.  That’s just the way the process of “rearticulation” works, people.  After all, at one point in our recent history, in certain contexts, virile, heterosexual masculinity was signified by lots of makeup, tousled hair, platform shoes, leather-studded body suits, and screaming, high-pitched vocals.  (Update:  I’m trying to paraphrase the point Andrew Ross made about camp, drag, punk and pop in No Respect.) It’s a wacky, multiaccentual world out there, in which a Nortel ad can quote Lennon’s “Come Together” and the BJP can quote Donna Haraway.  Get used to it.

But it’s one thing when a position in philosophy or the philosophy of science gets “rearticulated to” (or, if you prefer, hijacked by) a reactionary political movement.  Steve Fuller quite properly warns us about this possibility in his comment on Nanda’s book.  It’s quite another thing—a far more damaging thing, I think—when a renowned philosopher of science shows up in person to provide philosophical justification for (what I truly believe is) pseudoscience, a set of religious beliefs masquerading as science.  No one can claim that Fuller is being “hijacked by” the Discovery Institute, because in this case, Fuller himself is flying the plane.  For his part, Fuller simply doesn’t think ID is pseudoscience; and he is, in principle, indifferent to the question of whether its backers are part of a reactionary political movement.  I fully understand the latter position; I still don’t get the former.

One final thing, as if all this isn’t enough.  I’ve never understood why advocates of Design focus so exclusively and obsessively on living organisms.  Sure, they’re cool.  I like many of them.  But isn’t the very existence of matter even more fundamental, and even more amazing?  Especially when you reflect on the fact that the elemental forces of the universe have to be just so in order for matter to exist at all?  So maybe there were (or are, or will be) quintillions of universes that collapse within femtoseconds because the strong force was just a tad too strong, and we’re the only one that’s stable enough to sustain matter.  The fact that some of that matter got organized and grew up to ask about the laws of matter and the origin of life is secondary, I think, to the fact that there is matter in the first place.  Which is to say, in a not particularly original fashion, that no one has yet explained why there is Something rather than Nothing.  It was on my To Do list when I was a teenager, but I got sidetracked, and now I’m just another curious agnostic.

Posted by on 12/09 at 01:09 PM
  1. "The fact that some of that matter got organized and grew up (so to speak) to ask about the laws of matter and the origin of life is secondary, I think, to the fact that there is matter in the first place.  Which is to say, in a not particularly original fashion, that no one has yet explained why there is Something rather than Nothing.”

    It’s the other way around, with all due respect.  There has to be Something rather than Nothing, because if there were Nothing, we wouldn’t be here having this discussion. 

    Somewhere, a planet full of tenacled, asexual, silicon-based life forms is debating whether the extreme unlikelihood of their existance proves intelligent design.

    Posted by  on  12/09  at  02:41 PM
  2. Actually, rea, there doesn’t have to be Something rather than Nothing.  Sure, the existence of a Something asking why there is Something rather than Nothing presumes Something, but there could be Nothing—in which case, no questions, no problem.  Except for the problem entailed in the very language of “there could be Nothing.” As Heidegger kind of said, our languages so thoroughly presume Being that it’s damn near impossible to get a handle on what Being “is.”

    Posted by  on  12/09  at  02:54 PM
  3. I think the fact that ID isn’t interested in, say, the presence of matter as proof of God indicates that their fundamental position is actually not in favor of Intelligent Design--it’s instead pure opposition to evolution.  That is, their actual position is “anything but Darwin.” When you consider that they are willing (tactically and temporarily, I grant you) to abandon installing creationism in the public schools in favor of what appears on the surface as a New Age pseudo-philosophy, the depth of the loathing of evolution becomes clear.  This is, after all, a group not well known for adopting compromise positions.

    Posted by  on  12/09  at  03:13 PM
  4. I wouldn’t call that a thin response at all.  You have an incredible knack for making theory and all its jargon readable to those of us who are not native to that intellectual territory.  (And as an engineer, I couldn’t be more foreign.)

    I didn’t think Mr. Fuller ever engaged the key question you raise, i.e. the lack of any real science being done ID crowd.  I certainly appreciated his efforts to explain his position; it was much more thoughtful than anything you get from Behe or Dembski.  But it was ultimately still unconvincing. 

    Anyway, thanks for an interesting Fri. afternoon diversion.  I hope it displaces the Duran Duran that has been buzzing in my head since yesterday’s post.

    Posted by  on  12/09  at  03:16 PM
  5. "As Heidegger kind of said”

    Just wanted to say I really enjoyed that construction.

    Posted by  on  12/09  at  03:39 PM
  6. I wouldn’t call that a thin response at all.

    You’re saying this post makes me look fat?

    --Oh, and I apologize for the Duran Duran reference.  Never again.

    Posted by  on  12/09  at  03:46 PM
  7. Thanks to Michael for this reasoned response. I can’t blame him for being perplexed by my support of ID, given its huge tilt to the right. This is where detractors may wish to say that I take social constructivism to the point of wishful thinking. Basically, I believe that scientific movements aren’t owned by particular ideologies. All of us who take this stuff seriously bear some responsibility for what happens. And so I’d like to tilt ID to the left. In principle, this shouldn’t be impossible. Evolutionary theory managed to escape from its initial moorings in laissez faire economics and Malthusian population thinking, once enough people from different backgrounds and agendas became recognised contributors to it. Something similar needs to happen to ID so that it is not so exclusively dependent on the charity of religious right.

    I only started reading the ID literature comprehensively once I had to decide whether to join the Dover case. What I was looking for – and found – were enough interesting ideas that could be developed by scientifically and philosophically sophisticated people without holding a particular religious viewpoint. Once so developed, they could pose a serious challenge to established science. But then one must ask: How is ID going to get that opportunity for development? Suspicion of ID’s religious motives results in a self-fulfilling prophecy: ID gets kept out of the schools and thrown back in the arms of the religious right. However, mainstreaming ID – especially as a talking point in science classes – allows for non-religious, non-rightist people to take up the ideas. The fact that ID science stays entirely with secular discourse makes that feasible. But I don’t see any of this happening, given the current institutional politics of science, without some sort of legal intervention. Dover was certainly less than ideal – as even the Discovery Institute realized. But there will never be a ‘good’ time for such things.

    Moreover, I just don’t see the fact that ID lacks a substantial track record very telling in a pedagogical context. Education should be future- not past-oriented. And for someone who is clever and ambitious, ID proposes to recover a recognisable tradition of scientific thought that promises to bring together domains normally not associated with each other under the common rubric of ‘design’. These include not only, or even primarily, life but just as importantly, ‘technology’ in the broadest sense, including computer programming. A homework assignment for ID people is to sketch the alternative organization of the sciences that ID implies and trace its genealogy through the likes of Mendel, Babbage and Newton. ID not only lacks troops on the field but also a good backstory to motivate them. The latter could be relatively quickly addressed.

    Posted by  on  12/09  at  04:13 PM
  8. Regarding your last paragraph, some have used the anthropic principle along lines similar to ID.

    Posted by Jonathan  on  12/09  at  04:18 PM
  9. We’ve gone around on this a bit, but non-religious people cannot, a priori, take up ID, because it is wholly committed to the refutation of a theory (wrongly) perceived to be atheistic and has no positive research program (or results of any kind).

    Bostrom’s simulation argument is the only kind of thing that I can imagine being a secularist ID theory.

    Posted by Jonathan  on  12/09  at  04:21 PM
  10. Just picking up on Michael’s last point re: Something rather than Nothing.

    One of the things I’ve always found peculiar about creationists who argue for Intelligent Design (who, as far as I can tell, represent virtually everyone arguing for it with the possible exception of Steve Fuller, who is not, in fact arguing for it, but rather against those arguing against it), is that the ID argument is built largely around a distinction between the designed and the undesigned.  Think about the famous watch-found-on-a-beach story, in which the watch is fundamentally unlike the ocean, the clouds, the sand, etc.  Designed-ness is a quality that is attributed to only certain, “irreducibly complex” things.

    But creationists actually believe that _everything_ was created by an intelligent designer.  And if everything is created by an intelligent designer, how does it make any sense to suggest that there are certain objects that resonate designed-ness?  In a world created ex nihilo by an all powerful deity, we would simply have no experience with undesigned objects, nor could we. The very contrast on which so much of the standard ID argument rests is a based on an a priori impossibility.

    Or maybe I’m making some kind of fundamental non-philosopher-trying-to-do-philosophy mistake. In which case, apologies to all in advance...and I’ll go back to doing my history.

    Posted by  on  12/09  at  04:38 PM
  11. Seems to me that “sketch(ing) the alternative organization of the sciences” ought to wait until some IDer comes up with a testable hypothesis and takes the trouble to try to find actual evidence for it. Evolutionary theory has generated gazillions of testable hypotheses which research has either supported or falsified, and this process has built an enormously complex web of assertions we think of as facts because no evidence has ever arrisen to contradict them. I can’t imagine what a testable hypoth. would look like under ID. If I found the proverbial watch on the beach, and hypothesized that it had been built by people rather than nature, I wouldn’t have any trouble coming up with predictions of what I would find if I looked closely at its structure--I could predict that I would find machining marks on the gears, for instance, before looking to confirm them. I can never prove that the watch wasn’t a natural formation, but I could certainly find plenty of evidence that it wa human made.

    But what would an IDer look for? Exquisite little signatures of the Designer embedded in DNA? How would you recognize them?

    And isn’t the “organization of science” something that can only be described after it actually exists?

    Posted by  on  12/09  at  04:48 PM
  12. Not being either a philosopher of scientist nor a culture-studies maven, I’m stuck trying to puzzle this out with just the jargon of historians exposed to Hayden White et al. One take on the philosophy-of-science bit that’s made enormous sense to me is Ian Hacking’s The Social Construction of What (2000).  Have any other readers of this blog come across this and want to proffer some opinions?  We’ll shortly get Bérubé’s take in the Liberal Arts book, but I’d be curious to see what else people think about this.

    Posted by Sherman DOrn  on  12/09  at  04:57 PM
  13. Steve Fuller: “Thanks to Michael for this reasoned response. I can’t blame him for being perplexed by my support of ID, given its huge tilt to the right. [...] And so I’d like to tilt ID to the left.”

    You think that makes you better than the standard ID proponent?  Your attempts to politicize science aren’t any more welcome because you think that you’re going in one direction than the other.

    Typical of sociology of science, I have to say.  Starting with the assumption that all science is politics makes them very comfortable with clueless political interventions.  My respect for the entire field has dropped a few more notches after observing Fuller’s performance.

    Posted by  on  12/09  at  05:39 PM
  14. Fuller said, “But then one must ask: How is ID going to get that opportunity for development? Suspicion of ID’s religious motives results in a self-fulfilling prophecy: ID gets kept out of the schools and thrown back in the arms of the religious right.”

    This strikes me as making a rather large assumption.  How is ID being kept out of primary schools inhibiting its scientific development?  High school science classes don’t produce much original research.  Neither am I aware of any universities or journals that ban ID.

    The Discovery Institute and its affiliated ID advocates seem to be fixated on putting their product into public schools where students are ill-equipped to test it for accuracy, and avoid engaging the scientific community in any meaningful debate on that score.  Why does the DI not refocus its impressive funding stream away from media advocacy and towards original research?  Why do ID advocates like Behe and Dembski not go conferences to present their original research and its results, if any?

    Obviously those are rhetorical questions, from my perspective--I don’t believe that Dembski or Behe have meaningful results to share.  But I don’t understand Fuller’s perspective; if what is wanting in ID is more development, and you believe that this would be beneficial to the scientific community, why does it matter to inject it into primary classrooms?  Since that strategy necessarily relies upon (and inflames) the religious right, isn’t it in fact counterproductive--throwing it “back in the arms of the religious right”, as you say?

    I can see the argument that the benefit is to expose students to ID and open their minds to whatever benefits you see in it--non-natural methodologies, metaphysics, whatever--but that abandons a clear and useful discriminatory barrier to what is taught in science classes.  If ID is acceptable in primary schools because it might have undefined benefits, why not astrology or alchemy or crystal healing?  Is it not too much to ask that the proponents of a radical theory, making extraordinary claims, first engage the scientific community and/or demonstrate the usefulness and accuracy of those claims?

    You may have answered many of these questions elsewhere, and I apologize if I’m asking you to reiterate yourself.  But I don’t see the connection between ID’s supposed benefit to the practice of science on the one hand, and excusing it from taking part in that practice on the other.  Nor have I seen any evidence or even persuasive anecdotes that suggest to me that ID is barred from the halls of professional science by anything more than their lack of objective results and the unwillingness of its chief advocates to rigorously test their extraordinary claims.

    Posted by  on  12/09  at  05:54 PM
  15. I was thinking about the “genealogy” of ID the other day, and it occurred to me that it might go straight back to St. Anselm of Canterbury’s ontological proof. It finds a quality in something (Anselm saw lower degrees of “good” in the world; ID finds “design") and then promptly attributes it to Something (not Nothing).

    This isn’t completely fair to Anselm, but my point is mainly that Kant’s critique--that existence is not a predicate--might apply to ID. The fact that the term “design” might be a useful analogy for certain qualities found in nature does not entail the existence of a designer. Especially if we can’t observe the designer.

    I take part of Fuller’s point to be that “design"--in general--could be a fruitful avenue for new scientific research, and could be applicable to any number of things. I.e., by looking for “design” in nature we might find ourselves getting quite a few useful “design” tips from nature. So it is important, in that sense, not to quash a field of would-be research that could, somehow, potentially lead to actual discoveries.

    “Design” is such a slippery category, though, and it looks to most us of like the slipperiness is part of the appeal. The first thing that ID proponents really ought to do is define their terms. Does “design” imply intention? If not, how is it different from something like “order” or “unity” (both respectable scientific terms, as far as this lit scholar knows)? If yes (and the term “intelligent” implies that they think so), then how do we understand an intention that can’t be attached to an empirically verifiable agent? What does that mean? Or is it a metaphor, like “the child is father to the man”?

    On the topic of Something rather than Nothing, I just want to know who Designed the Designer.

    Posted by  on  12/09  at  06:01 PM
  16. 7.—What I was looking for – and found – were enough interesting ideas that could be developed by scientifically and philosophically sophisticated people without holding a particular religious viewpoint. Once so developed, they could pose a serious challenge to established science.

    If I follow this says ID isn’t science, pause, yet. The exercise in Dover PA essentially asks for permission to beg the question, to teach as science what will some day be really good science. If it weren’t magic-biology, if it were Intelligent Sapir-Whorf hypothesis for example, I wouldn’t be concerned at all. (I say this being equally ignorant of biology and linguistics.)

    The fascination with biology, the “focus so exclusively and obsessively on living organisms” is, I suspect, aimed at undercutting what biology tells us about living human organisms, inconvenient fact in certain places and contexts. Rhetorically, why alternative Biology? The answer that I fear is ugly; hatred, not religion.

    If there is a useful intellectual infrastructure supporting the case for ID surely it will find its voice. If ID is useless without imprimatur, then it must be useless.

    (On the other topic, “Nothing is not a yellow shower curtain.")

    Posted by  on  12/09  at  06:25 PM
  17. Lee

    “So it is important, in that sense, not to quash a field of would-be research that could, somehow, potentially lead to actual discoveries.”

    Sure.

    But as Colin pointed out and as every informed person in this discussion knows, that isn’t happening.

    Does everybody understand that?  It isn’t happening.

    Also, it might help some folks here to do some simple math.  There are a lot—tens of thousands?—of sincere and honest professional scientists around the world and the overwhelming majority of those accept evolutionary biology as a field that is on rock solid footing.

    And guess what?  A lot of those scientists are Christians.  Some are even self-identying evangelical Christians.  Harold Varmus, the head of the NIH and Nobel prize winning biologist, is an evangelical Christian.  Harold Varmus, like all the other scientists I mentioned above, thinks ID is pure crap and ID peddlers are anti-science schmucks.

    So do the math.  There are more religious scientists who think ID is crap than there are ID peddlers who are trying to shove their religion down the throats of public school kids.

    And that’s just counting the Christians.

    So this “religious bias” against ID is a red herring that is trotted out by the peddlers to please their uninformed scientifically illiterate (or just plain stupid) audience of Christian rubes.  Bill O’Reilly knows how this works.

    And the idea that some ALLEGED “contribution” of “religious thought” to the “generation” of scientific theories is being squelched is also easily dismissed by the above math. There are THOUSANDS if not TENS of THOUSANDS of scientists at work who are thinking about God while they are working every freaking day.

    So please, people, for the love of clarity and accuracy, can we stop pretending otherwise?????

    Can we return to reality and see that the similarities between the DI and the Swift Boaters is much greater than the similarity between Bill Dembski and (it gags me to even say it) Isaac Newton??

    I beg you.  Do the field of philosophy a favor.

    Posted by  on  12/09  at  06:26 PM
  18. BDB said, “The exercise in Dover PA essentially asks for permission to beg the question...”

    I like that phrasing very much.

    Posted by  on  12/09  at  06:36 PM
  19. no one has yet explained why there is Something rather than Nothing.

    It’s turtles all the way down.

    Posted by rorschach  on  12/09  at  06:54 PM
  20. In response to Ben Alpers (comment 10): Indeed, Raymond of Sabunde (Montaigne’s Raimond Sebond) thought that the hierarchy of creation was sufficient proof that the world was designed. What is interesting about design arguments through the end of the seventeenth century is how brief and generic they were. In the second half of the seventeenth century, with the increasing dominance of a mechanical model of nature and the concomitant exclusion of final causes from natural philosophy, that natural theologians began to look for the clearest, most evident examples of design in the world. They did so in order to combat those whom they labeled “atheists,” i.e., followers of Descartes and Spinoza. (Plus ça change....) John Ray’s “Wisdom of God Manifested in the Works of Creation” (1691) is a good example. I’ve just published an essay that addresses this point; please drop me a line if you’d like the citation.

    Posted by  on  12/09  at  07:05 PM
  21. Well, Steve, I hear you but I still ain’t convinced.  More specifically, I still think ID starts from a premise that just isn’t subject to ordinary protocols of falsification, so I can’t see it supplanting evolutionary theory in 100 years or 1000.  But even if it could, I think Colin raises a legitimate institutional question, namely, why intervene in the high schools?  Why not conferences, think tanks, journals?  I get a strong sense that ID is taking to the K-12 system not in order to jump-start research but to mask the fact that it hasn’t produced any.  And I think it’s safe to say that’s one reason why so many scientists (and interested onlookers) view it with such suspicion.

    13.  Typical of sociology of science, I have to say.  Starting with the assumption that all science is politics makes them very comfortable with clueless political interventions.  My respect for the entire field has dropped a few more notches after observing Fuller’s performance.

    I don’t buy it, Rich—that is, I don’t think you actually started out with any respect for sociology of science.  The fact that you think of Steve’s outlier position as “typical” suggests as much.  Just saying.

    12.  One take on the philosophy-of-science bit that’s made enormous sense to me is Ian Hacking’s The Social Construction of What (2000).  Have any other readers of this blog come across this and want to proffer some opinions?  We’ll shortly get Bérubé’s take in the Liberal Arts book, but I’d be curious to see what else people think about this.

    Actually, Sherman, sad to say, Liberal Arts is 100 percent Hacking-free.  And while I think The Social Construction of What? is a great book (check out its discussions of disability, too!), I refer to it only once in Rhetorical Occasions, in the course of pointing out that Paul Boghossian’s rephrasing of the Barnes/ Bloor symmetry principle (in a 2001 essay, “What is Social Construction")—and his paraphrase of Hacking’s discussion of it—is badly awry.

    But I’m trying to keep readers of this blog as confused as possible as to which argument I make in which book, so that you all have to buy them both.  The blog is free, right, but I still have to put a kid through college, you know.

    Posted by Michael  on  12/09  at  07:12 PM
  22. The Big B:

    “I just don’t see it.  Honestly.  I’m not seeing ID’s potential for being developed, criticized and tested, at least not by any means I’m aware of.  Steve insists that I’m not seeing it because the field is still too young”

    But Steve can insist whatever he wants.  What Steve can’t do (and this is evident from his bizarre attempts to defend his fantasies) is tell us how to test “idea” that mysterious undefined alien beings with mysterious undefined powers are visiting the earth continuously over the course of the last several billion yaears to “design” living organisms.

    I don’t blame Steve Fuller for this failure.  Failure is inherent to Fuller’s “idea” which is nothing but a supernatural belief, i.e., a fantasy that is no more useful to scientists than asking “What if everything including our memories was created ten seconds ago by Horflack the Blorz and everything is just a big illusion”?

    I do blame Fuller for not recognizing this fact.  He is either much stupider than some people claim he is, or he is a willful obfuscator and peddler of garbage—presumably all geared toward advancing the sales of his sleeping pills, er, books.

    Posted by  on  12/09  at  08:48 PM
  23. Fyi, if there is a reasonable alternative explanation for Fuller’s behavior that I’m not aware, let me know what it is.  Please frame your answer in the context of what we know about human behavior.  Aren’t social scientists supposed to have some expertise in that area?

    Posted by  on  12/09  at  08:53 PM
  24. “So it is important, in that sense, not to quash a field of would-be research that could, somehow, potentially lead to actual discoveries.”

    Sure.

    But as Colin pointed out and as every informed person in this discussion knows, that isn’t happening.

    Umm, yes. So you’re saying that “would-be research that could, somehow, potentially lead to actual discoveries” is not currently taking place. That’s kind of tautological, isn’t it?

    I just wanted to make it clear that Lawrence wasn’t actually responding to anything I said.

    Posted by  on  12/09  at  08:55 PM
  25. He is either much stupider than some people claim he is, or he is a willful obfuscator and peddler of garbage—presumably all geared toward advancing the sales of his sleeping pills, er, books.

    Lawrence, I see the point of challenging Steve’s conclusions, or, for that matter, his reasoning from start to finish.  I don’t see the point of impugning his intelligence, or hypothesizing selfish ulterior motives to him.  (Not that these would be advanced by anything he’s said here; I doubt very much that he’s engaged everyone in heated debate on this blog in order to sell books.  Are you, for example, more likely to purchase his work now?) Which is also to say that I believe in applying the Barnes/ Bloor symmetry principle—which asks investigators to examine belief systems with the assumption that people who believe X also believe they have reason for their beliefs—to science studies itself.  Especially to people I disagree with.

    Posted by Michael  on  12/09  at  09:08 PM
  26. The point in 25 in response to Lawrence is valid.

    However, if we step outside this blog, I can’t help but wonder if Fuller isn’t setting himself up to be one of the Discovery Institute’s well paid mouthpieces. 

    Arguing for nonsense does take practice.

    Posted by  on  12/09  at  09:32 PM
  27. Lee

    I just wanted to make it clear that Lawrence wasn’t actually responding to anything I said.

    But I was responding to something you said, Lee.  I agreed with you.  That’s what the phrase “sure” means.

    I think you knew that, Lee.

    The next paragraph I wrote merely pointed out that you were stating the obvious about a hypothetical scenario whose likelihood is close to nil.  For example, it’s equally “important” for scientists to avoid throwing sticks of dynamite in random science labs because that would impede important discoveries.  Is there any evidence that is happening?

    No.  Just like there is no evidence that any research is being quashed because scientists think Steve Fuller and his buddies at the Discovery Institute are full of crap.

    Another friendly reminder: the only tool of the ID peddler is rhetoric (they have no research).  Therefore, when engaging such peddlers (i.e., Fuller) you need to be very careful not to admit or grant creedence to their many many bogus presumptions.

    It’s all about fear with ID peddlers. You know, the atheists are coming to get you: BOOGA BOOGA!!!

    That’s it.  That’s the ball Steve Fuller is carrying, whether he (or anyone else) chooses to admit or not.  You’ll notice that he never descends from his lofty perch to address directly the straightforward conclusions reasonable people would draw from his behavior and statements.  No, he chooses to stick to his fancy phrases and engage in inuendo about the close-mindedness and bigotry of those who disagree with his “views.”

    Once you’ve seen one professional ID peddler, sadly, you’ve seen them all.

    Posted by  on  12/09  at  09:33 PM
  28. Michael

    “I don’t see the point of impugning his intelligence, or hypothesizing selfish ulterior motives to him.  (Not that these would be advanced by anything he’s said here”

    Are you kidding me???????!!!!  Did you read the stuff he wrote in the last thread???

    Your answer appears to be an admission that what the alternatives I posed above are the only reasonable ones.  Please let me know if there is another.

    Again, the facts:  you are spending a lot of time dissecting this blowhards garbage and trying to understand “what he means”.  My question is: WHY?  It’s obvious to me and to a lot of other people exactly what he means.  There’s nothing “subtle” about it, Michael.  And it’s obvious to me and a lot of other people (including you) that Fuller is just plain wrong.

    So why doesn’t Fuller “get it”?  Even after we point his errors plainly to him?  Why doesn’t he address the arguments directly?  He sidesteps all the direct hits and instead just splashes around in the mud and waves his arms around in the smoke.

    Is there a shortage of serious philosophers who are engaged in examining the “ideas” at play in societal melodramas like “the ID controversy” or “the Swift Boating of John Kerry” but who AREN’T clearly employed by the side whose goal is to LOWER the rigor of discourse in our country?  Damn, man, I hope not.

    But the amount of time spent trying to resuscitate Fuller’s claims ... I dunno, it’s sorta sad.

    My advice is write the bastard off as your peer but don’t forget him.  I won’t because I know I’ll be hearing his schtick again and again and again and again ....

    Posted by  on  12/09  at  09:42 PM
  29. Look at this amazing series of sentences from Fuller:

    “I only started reading the ID literature comprehensively once I had to decide whether to join the Dover case. What I was looking for – and found – were enough interesting ideas that could be developed by scientifically and philosophically sophisticated people without holding a particular religious viewpoint. Once so developed, they could pose a serious challenge to established science.”

    Does anyone else see that there is no “there” there?  Fuller is claiming to have “discovered” something—but he won’t tell us what he is.  He hints at these “interesting ideas” but every time he’s pressed to tell us what they are, he refers to interesting scientific ideas that have already been discovered.  He won’t tell us what “ideas” he “found” that could be “developed” by scientists that are unique to ID and haven’t already been explored by scientists for years.

    And guess what?  He’s not going to tell us.

    What kind of person engages in this sort of behavior?

    Is Fuller being “careless” here?  Is he merely inarticulate?

    You tell me.  You seem to know him better.  He seems to me exactly like a paid professional obfuscator of the type that the Discovery Institute employs and promotes for the sole purpose of smearing the practice of science.

    So my question: why are you wasting your time trying to “understand” his garbage?  Are you trying to discover whether, just maybe, there is a good reason to smear the practice of science?

    If so, just say so.  If not, then answer my legitimate and straightforward questions.

    Please.

    Posted by  on  12/09  at  09:57 PM
  30. Are you kidding me???????!!!!  Did you read the stuff he wrote in the last thread???

    Well, yeah.  That’s why I don’t think he’s trying to sell books here.  Or even make friends.

    you are spending a lot of time dissecting this blowhards garbage and trying to understand “what he means”.  My question is: WHY?

    For pretty much the reason I gave above:  he endorsed Meera Nanda’s book and now appears to be engaged in behavior that directly contravenes the terms of that endorsement.  So I went back and read the Dover testimony and realized that he was developing a meticulous argument, starting from a couple of the key premises of the philosophy of science, that the reason ID isn’t taken seriously is primarily that the Darwinian paradigm and its practitioners aren’t allowing it to flourish.  And I think that’s a really, really bad thing to argue, myself.  An interesting path to a wrong conclusion, as I said—and perhaps a conclusion so wrong that it will unnecessarily call into question the valid premises from which he began.  The distinction between context of discovery and context of justification, for instance, is worth holding onto, which is why I object to Fuller’s argument that Newton’s context of discovery provides support for ID’s context of (eventual) justification.

    Posted by Michael  on  12/09  at  10:04 PM
  31. Watch-maker arguments always seem to fall down on a certain point, in my mind....Isn’t a being who can design a ‘watch’ (or, more specifically, a Universe) necessarily complex Him or Her self?  How can you claim that the Universe is so complex that it *must* have been designed, but simultaneously claim that your hypothetical designer is not complex enough to also require a designer?

    Posted by Zenji  on  12/09  at  10:32 PM
  32. Steve Fuller - ”I only started reading the ID literature comprehensively once I had to decide whether to join the Dover case. What I was looking for – and found – were enough interesting ideas that could be developed by scientifically and philosophically sophisticated people without holding a particular religious viewpoint.

    Interesting discussion, Michael. I agree with you that there is definitely much more to the general rejection of ID than scientists wearing blinders. But here’s a question to ask yourself: If you thought that scientists were ignoring your theory about gnomes hiding your car keys when you’re not looking, what explanation would *you* propose for such treatment? It’s a perfectly natural and frankly, frighteningly common reaction to blame it on close-mindedness of a “ruling elite”. Why else would a group reject or *gasp* repress what is clearly a “valid” avenue to pursue?

    Three points regarding Fuller’s comments:
    1: I would be interested in seeing a few of the interesting ideas cited by Steve. Perhaps with a little detail? That may help our understanding of why Steve believes there is something to ID.

    2: I am also interested in what sort of instruction one could provide in the classroom, given that there is no developed plan or even general consensus about what ID entails and how it might possibly play out.

    3: The American Scientific Affiliation is a Christian organization composed of professional scientists. The Templeton Foundation is noted for its interests in the interplay of religion and science. Presumably, members of these organizations would be particularly open to design theories and already provide many “troops to the field” in terms supporting scientific-minded believers who think a non-human intelligence *actively* intervenes in the world. Yet most have turned away from ID arguments, finding them generally vacuous or of questionable value. Using the history of science as a guide, what is the average number of individuals predisposed to support an idea needed to successfully foment a scientific revolution? What is the typical rate for “revolutionary notions” failing to even make it off the ground. I’d guess something close to 99.99% for the latter question.

    Posted by  on  12/09  at  10:45 PM
  33. MB: “I don’t buy it, Rich—that is, I don’t think you actually started out with any respect for sociology of science.  The fact that you think of Steve’s outlier position as “typical” suggests as much.  Just saying.”

    Well, I do think the liitle of Latour’s work that I’ve seen is pretty good, and I’ve quoted him a bit here.  He’s a sociologist of science, isn’t he?  But I admit that saying “the whole field” is one of those stereotyping statements that’s not really true when you consider individuals who you do know something about: I don’t actually think any less of Latour’s work now that I know of Fuller’s beliefs.

    I suppose that I should distinguish what I find wrong with Fuller’s beliefs from what everyone else is saying.  It’s not his support of ID per se that bothers me.  Of course I think that is wrong, but if he were making a simple criticism of methodological rationalism or something, I’d shrug and disagree.  What bothers me is his elaborate and shaky historical justification for religious discrimination, his stated willingness to intervene in a science dispute for political reasons, and his extremely bad judgement in intervening at the high school level (this last so extreme that it almost demands consideration of bad faith).

    Posted by  on  12/09  at  11:24 PM
  34. Michael:

    Hopefully a simple question:

    Are there not tons and tons of theories out there that might be introduced into every class in high-school? Would you ever object to any of them outright?

    I would. I do not think alternate theories of gravity should be taught in high-school. Wrong time for the audience. I do not think alternate theories of the Holocaust (someone had to bring it up! wink!) ought to be taught in History. Wrong time for the audience.

    For me it is that simple; regardless of whether or not ID is be repressed by mainstream biologists, other scientists and lots of (other) Steves.

    Respectfully, Quentin

    Posted by  on  12/09  at  11:40 PM
  35. The article by Laurie Goodstein in the Dec. 4 NYTimes (read it quickly) tells us that: “The Templeton Foundation, a major supporter of projects seeking to reconcile science and religion, says that after providing a few grants for conferences and courses to debate intelligent design, they asked proponents to submit proposals for actual research.

    ‘They never came in,’ said Charles L. Harper Jr., senior vice president at the Templeton Foundation, who said that while he was skeptical from the beginning, other foundation officials were initially intrigued and later grew disillusioned.

    ‘From the point of view of rigor and intellectual seriousness, the intelligent design people don’t come out very well in our world of scientific review,’ he said.”

    I think this pretty well dismisses the notion that the ID proponents are just itching to research their ideas and are shut out by the dominant paradigm.

    Posted by  on  12/09  at  11:43 PM
  36. There is a fundamental difference between being inspired by God, God’s creation, or what have you, to understand the world and actually incorporating the action of God into your theories. The former can be science, the latter is not. Perhaps this is what you mean be the “context of discovery” versus the “context of justification”, but without the obscurantist bullshit big words.

    The line, for once, is pretty bright. I suspect you’re perplexed, Michael, because you are not quite willing to grant the simplest explanation: Fuller doesn’t really understand what science is. I don’t say this just to take a jab; after all, he’s hardly alone. We live in a world awash with ignorance and hokum, some of it held dear by otherwise intelligent people.

    The defense against ID has been vigorous, and sometimes nasty, because ID undermines not just evolutionary biology, but the definition of science itself. The explanations espoused by ID are qualitatively the same as explanation by magic. That’s where we were before science, when any system that was aesthetically pleasing was viable: the four bodily humours, planetary orbits as Platonic solids, etc. Why on earth would we want to go back?

    ID isn’t unproductive because it’s new, or because it hasn’t put together a good research program; it’s unproductive by construction. A researcher dedicated to ID can pack up and go home---all the questions are answered. How does a researcher guided by ID study the origin of, say, blood clotting (to take one of Behe’s examples)? Progress requires the disbelief of ID, otherwise there is nothing to look for.

    Are we to be inspired by ID by getting mad enough to demonstrate it isn’t true? I hope that’s not the kind of “heuristic” Fuller has in mind. That’s like teaching Holocaust denial in history class in the hopes that it will drive students to find out what really happened.

    If Fuller’s understanding of science is the product of an education before ID, I shudder to think of what comes after.

    Posted by  on  12/10  at  12:03 AM
  37. I’ll make one more response and sign off this thread. But I realize this isn’t the final word on anyone’s part.

    Michael is right to stress the contexts of discovery vs. justification distinction as being key to my testimony, especially in terms of the legal issue at stake. Ever since Edwards v. Aguilard (1987), US courts have been explicit in ruling out of the schools any form of knowledge that is shown to be religiously motivated.  In terms of the distinction, it’s as if a knowledge claim is treated as scientifically unjustifiable if its discovery process was religiously driven. This of course flies in the face of the history of science, in which often ideas would not have been pursued to the point of becoming scientifically justifiable, had their proponents not begun with certain (typically heterodox) religious motives.

    Nevertheless, the result has been to turn court cases involving ID into witch-hunts for religious motives. While the plaintiffs’ lawyers occasionally drew attention to ID’s lack of scientific validity, they realize that their case is made if they can show that ID is a front for religion. As it stands, the law effectively discourages religious people from entering science unless they adhere to the double truth doctrine: i.e. one from God and one from science.

    The classroom is ultimately about the context of discovery, not justification. Teachers are mainly in the business of motivating not testing science. If ID wants to get published in scientific journals, then its claims need to be scientifically justified – no doubt about it. However, if we are trying to motivate kids to do science or become scientists or even be well-disposed to science, then there should be nothing wrong with presenting them with conceptual frameworks that have historically allowed just that. And frameworks based on intelligent design principles count among them.

    I don’t believe ID proves the existence of God, but its heuristic value doesn’t rest on that point. It lies in the forms of research people undertake when they think the universe has been designed and they’ve got a shot at figuring out the designer’s plan. Now, the textbooks based on ID principles may not themselves do the greatest job at this because they stress the prospect of a designer over the nature of his/her/its design. But such textbooks could be easily written, especially if more of the history of science was incorporated into science teaching.

    Posted by  on  12/10  at  12:22 AM
  38. "The classroom is ultimately about the context of discovery, not justification. Teachers are mainly in the business of motivating not testing science.”

    Good grief, what a false dichotomy.  “Discovery” doesn’t count as discovery unless it survives tests.  Scientific work may be motivated by all kinds of things, including egotism.  So what?  If you’re going to teach science in a way that is not just doctrine (something Fuller would presumably support) then you *have* to teach about testing, about how we distinguish between plausible theory and bullshit.  But of course that’s precisely that distinction Fuller wants to elide.

    What impressed me as a child was the periodic table—more generally, seeing the power of a few principles to explain so much of the world.  I remember enjoying Watson’s _The Double Helix_ when I was 12, but it seemed only incidentally related to grasping genetics.  So I see no reason to discard the old-fashioned notion that science classes teach science, that they pass on a small part of the existing heritage of scientific knowledge. 

    Ultimately this last post boils down to saying that everyone should share Fuller’s vision of science so that’s what teachers should teach —he’s really not using the word “motivate” in any more interesting sense than that.  The “well-disposed to science” is particularly egregiously vague.  There’s a religiously-chauvinistic core to Fuller which came out clearly in the previous post, and the rest seems to be glib circular reasoning.

    Posted by  on  12/10  at  01:24 AM
  39. For me, this line from Fuller’s latest is most important:

    “However, if we are trying to motivate kids to do science or become scientists or even be well-disposed to science, then there should be nothing wrong with presenting them with conceptual frameworks that have historically allowed just that.”

    Not in grade, middle, or high-school; for me that is. What I want from school for my three children is to *first* come away with basic facts about the world: 2+2=4; there was a concerted effort to rid Germany of Jews, Gypsies, gays, disabled, etc; (lambda n: reduce(mul,range(2,n+1)))(5) calculates Factorial of 5 as 120 in the Python programming language, spelling (which I still can not), etc. *Second* they should be motivated to learn, eg. be curious. The second, IMHO, comes from having motivated teachers that excite kids.

    ID has no place at this level of schooling.

    Posted by  on  12/10  at  02:04 AM
  40. As an attorney (and one with an article on this issue being published this month) let me briefly interject to point out some serious flaws in Fuller’s characterization of Aguillard. 

    First let me point out for the non-lawyers (we call you “cattle"*) that Aguillard was decided under the old, ‘strong’ Lemon test (as distinguished from the new, ambiguous one):  “First, the statute must have a secular legislative purpose; second, its principal or primary effect must be one that neither advances nor inhibits religion; finally, the statute must not foster ‘an excessive government entanglement with religion.’” The act in question in Aguillard failed at least two, and probably all three prongs, depending on who you ask.  The decision is pretty remarkably uncontroversial, partly because it wasn’t about ID but “Scientific Creationism,” including some pretty mind-boggling obtuse young earth materials.  The real question today is, “Is Intelligent Design more like the SC in Aguillard, or legitimate objective science?” I’d say ID’s complete lack of results is one of several determinative factors… but the gallery can decide for itself.

    Fuller says that the courts are striking “any form of knowledge that is shown to be religiously motivated.” This is untrue.  First, of course, what “knowledge” is there in ID?  Several people here have pointed out that ID’s failure to perform in academia is more reasonably attributed to its lack of results than to any materialist cabal--it simply has no “knowledge” to offer.  Even if it did, courts don’t examine the motivations of “knowledge,” but of actors--here (i.e., in Kitzmiller and Aguillard), of legislators.

    Aguillard was, for these purposes, a **two part** holding.  The Court did hold that the legislators’ motives were suspect, but it did it by holding that (A) the act in question impermissibly advanced religious goals, but also (B) more importantly (and actually first) that it **did not have a secular purpose.** That is drastically different than striking “knowledge” with “religious motivations.” Jesuits have religious motivations for teaching rigorous courses, and courts wouldn’t bar a teacher who just happened to be a Jesuit.  If he taught his theology, without any secular justification, then he would be barred--just as ID is.  To avoid that pesky Constitution, ID must be able to show that it has some purpose/advantage **other** than that clearly apparent from the actions and speeches of its advocates.

    Which raises the question, again, for Fuller - What is the putative value inherent in Intelligent Design?  How does that value arise from teaching ID in public high schools?  Why is that value not compromised by giving ID a pass on all standards of performance and accuracy?

    It’s late, and I’m tired, so I apologize for any errors in my abbreviated analysis.  But it’s important to point out that Aguillard is often the subject of scare-mongering.  It’s not radical, it’s not anti-religious, and it’s not prejudicial to religious thinking; it merely says (completely in line with Lemon and a zillion other cases) that you can’t preach in a public school classroom, and if you can’t show a secular motive for your challenged curriculum, then simply saying, “This is science, not religion” will not save you from the court seeing through your guise.

    * It’s a joke, laugh.

    Posted by  on  12/10  at  02:36 AM
  41. Sorry, significant typo:  To avoid that pesky Constitution, ID must be able to show that it has some purpose/advantage *other than [the sectarian religious purpose that is] clearly apparent from the actions and speeches of its advocates.

    Posted by  on  12/10  at  02:40 AM
  42. Speaking as an empirically-minded physicist (which I am), I believe a major problem with ID is that it contradicts Occam’s razor - it represents the “path of most resistance” as compared to the theories it wishes to supplant, i.e. evolution.

    The “external evidence” against ID is very simple: It has not impressed very many biologists but is heavily pushed by strong forces with an obvious religious and politcal agenda.

    Why would good science ever be pushed by such forces? Quantum mechanics wasn’t pushed by strong forces with an obvious agenda, but it did revolutionize physics. The same goes for the theory of relativity, and even evolution.

    But: We may disregard this as irrelevant, which it is (apart from the commonsensical notion that if something smells fishy it probably is fishy) and turn to the theory itself.

    Looking at the theory itself, I note that the proponents of ID make no suggestions of an experiment (or a set of observations), not even a thought experiment, that would allow us to decide experimentally between ID and evolution. Why not? Because ID is mainly founded on the logical notion of “irreducibility”, trying to prove by argument and probability theory that life could not have evolved by itself.

    When no such experiment is suggested or even possible, in my eyes it means that ID is not falsifiable. And ... a scientific theory that is not falsifiable has no sense, cannot be. A scientific theory *must* ultimately be a claim that certain observations will yield certain results, and in order for one scientific theory to be preferred to another, it must be better to predict and explain the observed data.

    A classic in this field is Newton’s theory of gravity derived from Kepler’s laws, which was subsequently used to derive the gravitational acceleration at the Earth’s surface level. ID does no such thing.

    And another thing is that if a theory postulates some unobservable phenomenon (like atoms in 19th century science, or the “designer” of ID) it must still supply indirect ways of deducing these phenomena (like being able to deduce the macroscopic properties of gases, or like Brownian motion, when speaking of atoms).

    So ... *given that* ID makes no new experimental predictions which would distinguish it from evolution, we would like some sort of theory as to the nature of the designer and the design process involved.

    Who/what was the designer of life? When was life designed, and what technology was used? When was this design performed?

    And what does the available data tell us of the nature of the designer? Is life on Earth a research project launched by space aliens, was it some sort of deity, or was it really the flying spaghetti monster?

    Are these suggestions not to be taken seriously? I’d say that if ID really wants to be taken seriously as anything more than a metaphysical postulate - useful in philosophy classes as an example of how not to construct a scientific argument - it needs a theory for these things.

    Or, at the very least, it needs something to distinguish it empirically from evolution. As long as it hasn’t got that, it remains a metaphysical superstructure pushed for ideological motives - not a scientific theory.

    Posted by Carsten Agger  on  12/10  at  02:53 AM
  43. Sorry, one last hurrah:  The excellently-named Colin Danby raises a critical point.  We aren’t educating kids in a formless void; there are actual facts and processes they need to learn.  The idea that we can present kids with any old theory and allow them to discover its successes and failures on their own is attractive, but it fails for at least two important and, I should have thought, extraordinarily obvious reasons:

    1.  Where does it end?  There are no end of invalid theories that have been tested and found wanting or never been tested at all.  The ones that are often compared to ID are:  Young Earth creationism, Scientology, alchemy, astrology, Flood geology (catastrophism?), phlogiston, crystal healing, Gaian consciousness, telepathy, ESP, and the idea that the Cubs will win it all this year.  At what point do we put a guard on the door, if for no other reason than that there are only so many hours in a day?  Surely there must be *some* measure of reliability in terms of testing what is proposed to be taught.

    2.  One answer ID advocates would give to #1 is to say, “We have a list of several hundred PhDs who support us!” It is a farcical answer for several reasons, but one of the least obvious is the most important to me.  Many, if not most, of those advocates have strong ulterior motives.  Anyone who claims that Dembski is merely following where the evidence leads isn’t paying close enough attention to his extracurricular writings; the same can be said for Jonathan Wells, who has made his religious orientation explicitly clear.  These advocates have every incentive to militate strongly for the teaching of their theory regardless of its scientific merits, because there is an additional, spiritual goal. 

    If OUR goal is to teach science, rather than morality or salvation or the blessed magnificence of Sun Myung Moon, then what defense do we have?  Science is hard.  It’s boring.  And in too many places in this country, preachers have much more influence over the teaching of science than scientists do.

    I don’t mean to denigrate religious motivations; my point is not to make a value judgment between science and religion, or to claim that they are incompatible.  But clearly, for some people, they *ARE* incompatible, and some prefer religion.  Equally as clearly, some people have the resources and the will to enforce that preference through political processes that are disconnected from the successes or failure of the putative scientific theory being used to displace objective biology.

    If our goal is to teach empirical science, then what tools do we have against the corrosive influences of groups and individuals willing to deceive and pressure laypeople in order to supplant empirical science with revealed truth?  If we are abandoning empirical science, of course, the objection on those grounds vanishes… but god grant us empirically-minded neighbors willing to share the fruits of their *productive* research.

    Again, it is late, and I am tired, and I apologize if I have been less than coherent.  I would like to say, finally, that some very salient objections were raised to Fuller’s points here.  I don’t place any particular burden on him to answer such points in a commentary thread on another man’s blog, especially when multiple other commentors are all demanding answers to their own pet objections, and I’m grateful for the time he did spend here, but I do wish that he had responded to those points more concretely.

    Posted by  on  12/10  at  02:57 AM
  44. An instructive experience for me this summer was scanning through a ‘crevo’ thread, as it’s called, on FreeRepublic.com.  ‘Crevo’ is a coinage that indicates creationists vs. evolutionists.  FreeRepublic.com is a pretty conservative listserv/web site populated by participants known as ‘freepers.’ Reading through a couple of hundred messages, I discovered a lively discussion both for and against evolution and ID—and learned a few things, too.  A number of the posters were academics and working scientists by all indications, in addition to the usual flamers and culture warriors).

    Those in favor of evolution and against ID were strongly oriented to the life sciences, while those in favor of ID and against evolution were strongly oriented to physics and mathematics.  Not 100% either way, but by a *lot*.  As I started noticing this, I found myself thinking of this as a resurfacing of the empiricist / rationalist divide.  I wonder how this plays in Fuller’s view.

    Posted by  on  12/10  at  03:22 AM
  45. Damn!

    I compliment Michael for attracting even busy lawyers to his blog, so I feel I must say something in response because it helps to fine-tune the issue at hand.

    If the test of religious motives is ‘preaching in the classroom’, then this is going to be difficult to monitor if, as it has turned out historically, that people thinking deeply about religion have used that as a basis for doing good science. Hopefully a teacher can recount the successful (‘justified’) discovery processes of religiously inspired scientists, and even recommend the heuristic value of such processes, without being hauled into court for ‘preaching’.

    I have no doubt that Edwards v. Aguillard works fine when you’ve got a science teacher telling students to discard Darwin for the Bible. But what if the teacher says that scientists trying to make sense of the Bible were inspired to do good science that we still accept today? Moreover, what if the teacher were to suggest that such (justified) discoveries were unlikely, had the scientists not been inspired by the Bible?

    Admittedly ID textbooks have not yet reached this stage of sophistication but once ID figures out its own backstory (i.e. it wasn’t invented by the Discovery Institute), this problem will come to the fore. If ID can reclaim religiously inspired scientists of the past for their side, then that can be used to compensate for the current empirical deficiencies of the programme and bolster the argument that secularisation of the curriculum has gone too far in the opposite direction: i.e. the law displays anti-religious bias. But I agree that Dover may not be the test case for this point.

    Posted by  on  12/10  at  03:48 AM
  46. #44.

    This thread has ‘jumped the shark’ or maybe it has been modified Godwinned, by invoking Freerepublic as a source.

    On to Kevin Costner above.

    Posted by  on  12/10  at  04:07 AM
  47. Those in favor of evolution and against ID were strongly oriented to the life sciences, while those in favor of ID and against evolution were strongly oriented to physics and mathematics.

    Very interesting.  Makes partial sense. 

    Which is to say, in a not particularly original fashion, that no one has yet explained why there is Something rather than Nothing.

    Ennui. The god(esses) were lonely and bored—the stuff of myths and legends and art.  Beyond reason and proofs—beyond intelligence as we are capable of imagining it.  Beyond politics and institutions—legal, educational, etc.  Beyond debate as we configure it. 

    Our absence unthinkable, inconceivable, sad, inevitable.

    Are creationists only in denial?

    Or why Something rather than Something Else?

    Another question: why the yearning for a design or designer? Is that yearning biologically hardwired too?  Why do some evolutionists remain evangelical Christians, per the above?  Is god-believing in the DNA?

    All of these words processed on a purple blog.  De ja vou.  Circles.

    Posted by  on  12/10  at  05:14 AM
  48. "I’ve never understood why advocates of Design focus so exclusively and obsessively on living organisms.  Sure, they’re cool.  I like many of them.  But isn’t the very existence of matter even more fundamental, and even more amazing?”

    It seems to me like it’s the other way around… ID opponents focus on the biological exclusively because the anthropic principle has a lot more of a foothold in the physics community than irreducible complexity or anything critical of evolution does in the biological community.

    The Privileged Planet has been what the Discovery Institute and ARN.org have been promoting most heavily over the last year or so.

    As for Fuller’s position on the potential utility of ID for scientific investigation… even if it’s only as a whipping boy for evolutionary biologists, the project of pointing out and publicizing the shortcomings of evolutionary explanations can only spur better explanations.  And it seems like a lot of scientists might be inclined to investigate ID (in it’s purely intellectual form) seriously if it wasn’t so much a weapon of culture war.

    It seems like quite a stretch to say that SETI is not based on the same principles as ID (but see Panda’s Thumb lately for just that argument).  The only differences I see between SETI and ID are ideological and motivational.  Which is why a few panspermia enthusiasts are into ID.  If ID could be steered to the left, it would be somewhat equivalent to SETI, but with a much wider potential field of investigation.

    I like the way Michael Ruse classifies science in The Evolution-Creation Struggle: there’s pseudoscience, public science, and professional science.  Evolution started out as pseudoscience, graduated to public science with Darwin, but didn’t become professional science with which actual research was done until Ernst Haeckel (sort of) and T. H. Morgan (really).  ID is straddling pseudoscience and public science now.  But it took a long time for evolution to get beyond pseudoscience.  That’s not to say ID ever will, but it’s not a foregone conclusion that it won’t.

    Posted by Sage  on  12/10  at  08:37 AM
  49. Steve Fuller: 

    “Admittedly ID textbooks have not yet reached this stage of sophistication. . .”

    But we can be sure that future revisions of ID texts will be more sophisticated and reflect careful study of the ongoing ‘benchwork’ in ID--i.e. the courtroom bench, not the laboratory bench.

    “If ID can reclaim religiously inspired scientists of the past for their side, then that can be used to compensate for the current empirical deficiencies of the programme”

    !!!???  And there I was ready to buy the carefully drawn distinction ‘between the “context of discovery” and the “context of justification,”’?  Introducing ID in the HS science curriculum--which we all agree could use a little more history-- seems ‘designed’ to help religiously-inclined students dismiss the differences between these contexts, not to ‘motivate’ them to distinguish them.

    “and bolster the argument that secularisation of the curriculum has gone too far in the opposite direction: i.e. the law displays anti-religious bias.”

    Ah, the fat end of the wedge, boys and girls.  If ID as science doesn’t fly, we can fall back on ‘science’ as a form of ‘anti-religious’ materialism, or failing that, science is part of the religion of ‘secular humanism.’

    Let the courts decide which:  framed thus, the only way to achieve the separation of church and state in our schools will be to introduce religiosity into the curriculum for balance.

    Posted by  on  12/10  at  11:26 AM
  50. Sage, I don’t think anyone is denying that a lot of different things could be a goad to further exploration, though exactly what it means to “investigate ID” remains unclear—what would be an ID research question?  I think the position taken by most folks is that it’s up to ID proponents *to do the work*, rather than to present a half-baked vision and insist that it go into high school textbooks as though it had attained its goals. 

    I agree there’s a faith-based character to SETI.  But SETI, as far as I know, has no propositions, no doctrine about the world, certainly nothing that it’s trying to shove into textbooks in opposition to well-established work.  They’re quite happy to admit that their little green men haven’t shown up.  It’s the bass-ackward quality of the argument that ID belongs in high school that’s weird: no results, not even an active literature, and yet the demand to be regarded as proper science.  What happened to the old-fashioned work ethic?

    Fuller has figured out that one way to make this argument look less dumb is to redefine teaching science as teaching the History of Science.  I yield to none in my enthusiasm for the History of Science.  But I can tell the difference and so, happily, can almost everyone in this discussion.

    Posted by  on  12/10  at  01:20 PM
  51. exactly what it means to “investigate ID” remains unclear—what would be an ID research question? 

    ---
    here are some suggestions:

    supposing “intelligent design” did occur, what properties of the designer and the design process can we deduce from the available data?

    supposing intelligent design did occur, how do we give a better and more coherent explanation of the evolution of life than is possible with evolution?

    And, finally:
    What are the experimental consequences of assuming intelligent design. Which empirical data would be different if ID is a better theory than standard evolution, and how do we check if this is the case?

    My guess at a response to the last question: If ever the ID creationists come up with an experiment to decide between their theory and evolution, they will never accept the result if it goes against their first assumptions.

    This is because ID is really not a scientific theory but a metaphysical superstructure on evolutuin biology

    Posted by Carsten Agger  on  12/10  at  01:46 PM
  52. sigh - pressed Submit too fast ...

    a metaphysical superstructure imposed for purely idelogical and religious reasons., Should one particular argument fall, another must be supplied, since its not really about the theory at all, but about the ideology.

    And “real science”, like mainstream biology, is different in that it is empirical - meaning, it’s not “if the facts agree with us"-empirical

    Posted by Carsten Agger  on  12/10  at  01:49 PM
  53. Colin Danby says:

    “I think the position taken by most folks is that it’s up to ID proponents *to do the work*, rather than to present a half-baked vision and insist that it go into high school textbooks as though it had attained its goals.”

    Well put.  If the goal of high school science education is to teach good science (which most people agree it is, though I’m not completely sure it should be), ID has absolutely no place in high school textbooks.  While I think there are strong utilitarian arguments as to why teaching ID in high school might ultimately be a good thing for science, in terms of getting more kids interested in science and giving them a reason to seek out knowledge for themselves (in addition to Fuller’s reasons about letting religion back into the context of discovery), ID hasn’t really done anything.

    “Fuller has figured out that one way to make this argument look less dumb is to redefine teaching science as teaching the History of Science.  I yield to none in my enthusiasm for the History of Science.  But I can tell the difference and so, happily, can almost everyone in this discussion.”

    I don’t go as far as to endorse ID in high schools, but perhaps one reason I’m sympathetic to Fuller’s line of argument is because I think that redefinition would be a good thing.  Teaching intoductory science is really teaching history of science anyway, it’s just a question of whether you’re teaching the scientists’ history or the historian’s history, whether you’re letting science mean anything more than the results produced by the ideal Mertonian definition.

    Posted by Sage  on  12/10  at  03:17 PM
  54. re: “Teaching introductory science is really teaching history of science anyway”

    Really?  Nobody ever taught me Aristotle in biology or physics class and they had no hesitation starting with Mendelian genetics or contemporary understandings of the solar system.  It’s true there’s a convention in Physics teaching of doing Newtonian mechanics first.  But even where there are traces of the history of the discipline in its pedagogical sequencing, the statement above doesn’t follow—it wants to be argued and not just asserted.

    Posted by  on  12/10  at  04:09 PM
  55. Sage is a classic example of what I’ve been railing against.  He’s spouting off his conclusions without any evidentiary support.  He’s repeating talking points torn right out of the Discovery Institute script.

    “it seems like a lot of scientists might be inclined to investigate ID (in it’s purely intellectual form) seriously if it wasn’t so much a weapon of culture war.”

    Really?  How do you figure, Sage?  Upon what FACTS do you base your conclusion?

    As a scientist, I can tell you that your impressions do not reflect reality.  So my question is: how did it come to pass that you are confused?

    My answer: like many people, you have simply been fed the wrong information by the Discovery Institute and similar anti-science groups, by way of our worthless lazy media.

    “It seems like quite a stretch to say that SETI is not based on the same principles as ID (but see Panda’s Thumb lately for just that argument).”

    Ah yes, the “SETI does it, so why can’t we?” argument.  Where did you come up with that one, Sage? 

    It’s not a stretch at all, Sage, and here’s why: all SETI is looking for is evidence that an alien civilization exists that is capable of transmitting a signal —not necessarily a “hello earthlings” signal but ANY signal—that can reach earth.

    That’s it.

    The ID peddlers are claiming something much more extraordinary.  They are claiming that the failure of evolutionary biology to explain, in minute-by-minute molecule-by-molecule detail how the motile apparatus of certain bacteria evolved PROVES that mysterious alien beings must have visited earth continuously for the past 4 billion years and “tweaked” the chromosomes of every “kind” of living thing that ever existed.

    Do you understand?  Is that clear?  Do you agree that the ID peddlers’ claims are just a tad more, uh, extreme than the assumptions of SETI?

    I hope so.  But if not, let me hear you address DIRECTLY the point I just raised.  Go for it.

    “But it took a long time for evolution to get beyond pseudoscience.  That’s not to say ID ever will, but it’s not a foregone conclusion that it won’t.”

    Ah, now we have the “fairness” argument.  We just need to give the ID peddlers some more time!

    Let me remind you all again: Michael Behe stated in Dover that he has already CONCLUDED that the designer is his PERSONAL DEITY aka “God”.  Now, we all have some familiarity with the characteristic attributed to the Christian God, don’t we?  One of those characteristics is that God is invisible (some of you may recall hearing about people claiming to have seen “God” or heard “God” telling them to do things, like kill people.  I’ve yet to hear of a criminal defense lawyer get his client out of jail by proving that, in fact, God did authorize the deed.  Why do you suppose that it????).

    So how is it that Michael Behe intends to show the rest of the world that his personal deity is actually the One True Deity and, yes, truly EXISTS in the same way that our chromosomes exist?

    Does anyone hear really want to argue that “Maybe in the future we’ll know how to study deities empirically?”

    Anyone????

    Effectively that is the argument that Sage and (others) have made.  The problem is that Sage and the others just don’t REALIZE that because they have digested too much of the ID peddlers script and they are blinded by the rhetorical obfuscation of professional B.S. artists like Steve Fuller.

    Colin and a few others here know the facts.  But a surprising number of the rest of you—literate educated people—are swimming in the swamp that the DI poured for you.

    Just pull yourself out, admit you were fooled, and stop reciting the ID peddlers scripts.

    There’s nothing to be ashamed of.  Really.

    Posted by  on  12/10  at  04:56 PM
  56. Lawrence I think we can figure out what we need to know at a slightly lower level of invective.

    Posted by  on  12/10  at  05:29 PM
  57. Particularly since we’re supposed to have reason on our side.

    Posted by  on  12/10  at  05:48 PM
  58. This from Fuller is highly disturbing for me: “secularisation of the curriculum has gone too far”. IMHO, in public school the “curriculum” ought to be completely “secularized”.

    And as for Lawrence and his “level of invective”, I have to admit he is writing what I am sitting here thinking. I hate the tap-dance I feel ColinD is suggesting. Since this seems to be all about fine points and distinctions, saying ID is dumb and people who believe it are bamboozled is not saying that the people are dumb, or bad, or whatever. But, Lawrence, keep writing as you do, I do not mind.

    I actually find this whole topic highly depressing.

    Posted by  on  12/10  at  05:50 PM
  59. Michael: Shrug. I do not mind some emotion in my discussions. At least it is recognizable that the people speaking actually care about what they are saying. I am rather tired of the bland conversations I *must* have w/ people so that they can feel comfortable. (Go ahead, and call me “dumb”, I can take it! grin!)

    Posted by  on  12/10  at  05:56 PM
  60. I think Lawrence is right to use so much invective.  It is pretty infuriating to see so many people assume good faith on the part of Fuller and the other creationist propagandists when the overwhelming evidence is to the contrary. 

    Sorry, it is all too clear that is he spouting a lot of nonsense.  It isn’t worth anyone’s time to engage Fuller and the rest of them as if they were engaged in serious discussion.  He is part of the creationist propoganda offensive, pure and simple. 

    Michael, can you justify your belief that he should be taken seriously?  I mean seriously justify it, not rely on some cliche about treating people nice and respecting all academics and so forth? 

    Lawrence is one of the few people that has the appropriate attitude toward the likes of Fuller.  The rest of you seem too polite for your own good.  Is there any point in which you can call bullshit, or will this merry-go-round spin forever?

    Posted by  on  12/10  at  06:18 PM
  61. There is a time for invective and a time for cool reflection. Lawrence makes many _factual_ claims about people having been influenced by the Discovery Institute. Where’s the evidence? I think he’s an ignorant blowhard who wouldn’t get a passing grade in Logic 101. The evidence for that claim is readily available in his postings.

    Posted by  on  12/10  at  06:52 PM
  62. I think it all boils down to a simple normative proposition: Fuller has a valid point, no doubt.  But in the context of the court case, it is more important to maintain the separation of church and public schools than it is to support Fuller’s critique of science’s epistemological privilege, and it is more important to keep the church out of public schools than it is to use ID to motivate kids to do science.

    Yours in Secular Communism from the Social Utopia of the North,
    --Jonathan

    Posted by Jonathan  on  12/10  at  07:12 PM
  63. Steve Fuller writes: ”As it stands, the law effectively discourages religious people from entering science unless they adhere to the double truth doctrine: i.e. one from God and one from science.

    and, in another reply:

    If ID can reclaim religiously inspired scientists of the past for their side, then that can be used to compensate for the current empirical deficiencies of the programme and bolster the argument that secularisation of the curriculum has gone too far in the opposite direction: i.e. the law displays anti-religious bias.

    This is a questionable claim.
    What of the members of the American Scientific Association? What of Francis Collins? Many religious scientists consider science to be a means of studying part of God’s creation. Fuller should take note that the vast majority of *contemporary*, “religiously inspired scientists” are not falling for ID.

    But I agree that Dover may not be the test case for this point.

    Oh? Why not? Those among the school board who rammed ID into the school district couldn’t even identify the “science” behind ID (or even describe what ID actually was), learned about it during religious retreats, followed the advice of a religious agenda-based advocacy group and found that the publisher of the “Of Pandas...” book that they wanted to provide to students had simply swapped the words “intelligent design” for “creationism” in later editions. The primary reason for promoting ID is clearly religiously inspired. Sounds like the *perfect* test.

    If you think secularization has gone too far in the classroom, what would you say about the popularity of scientifically questionable, abstinence-only sex ed programs?

    Posted by  on  12/10  at  07:28 PM
  64. Michael, can you justify your belief that he should be taken seriously?

    Well, blah, I tried to in comment 30.  But that reminds me that I never replied to Quentin in comment 34:

    Michael:

    Hopefully a simple question:

    Are there not tons and tons of theories out there that might be introduced into every class in high-school? Would you ever object to any of them outright?

    Quentin (and many other commenters) are right to point out that I’ve largely ignored the immediate context of Fuller’s Dover testimony—namely, the suit over whether to teach ID as science in high schools.  I really assumed that this went without saying:  I think it is a truly terrible, terrible idea to teach ID in a science class, and I celebrated (on this very blog, as some of you may recall) when the ID-flogging members of the Dover school board were voted out of office.  But you know, I can’t put it any better than my good friend and former bandmate Jonathan did in comment 62.  Thank you, Jonathan, and we of the blighted south are grateful, as always, for your visit.

    Let me be clear about this.  Fuller is not a charlatan or a con artist or a flim-flim man.  Remember, everyone, this is a guy who takes Popper’s side against Kuhn, on the ground that Popper more accurately captures the actual practice of science.  He believes in falsification; he thinks Kuhn has had a bad influence both on science and on the philosophy of science.  How he gets from there—or from Nanda’s book—to Dover is something I still do not, and probably will never, understand.

    And it’s not a matter of treating all academics nicely, blah.  Michael Behe is a flim-flam man.

    Posted by  on  12/10  at  07:42 PM
  65. Lawrence Sober:
    “Just pull yourself out, admit you were fooled, and stop reciting the ID peddlers scripts.

    There’s nothing to be ashamed of.  Really.”

    I guess you caught me.  Sorry, I’ll only consider arguments from the good side from now on.

    As for the “FACTS” [emphasis in original] I was arguing from, I guess I was thinking of my experience with an interview survey project I worked on a few years ago.  We interviewed scientists about evolution and anti-evolution and issues of objectivity in science, and in conversations where we talked about the concept of ID in neutral language, that is, looking for patterns in biology that indicate an artificial source, some did express positive interest.  That was before ID was front page news and everyone knew it was just creationism in a cheap tuxedo.  But it was just social science type stuff, so it isn’t really facts.  I sometimes get confused about that.

    I was going to second Jonathan’s comments about church/state separation trumping the other arguments, but now I realize that even bringing up those other arguments in the first place made me a pawn of the Howard Ahmanson and his goons.

    Thanks, Lawrence.  You saved me from myself.

    Posted by Sage  on  12/10  at  07:52 PM
  66. On Fuller’s legal analysis, I generally agree with ColinD. 

    I would add that Fuller is making an error in mixing up religiously-inspired science with religiously-inspired decisions by a government to teach (non-)science. 

    The scientific conclusions reached by an honest scientist do not depend upon what inspired them to conduct experiments.  The religious motivations of the DI and ID’ers would not be an issue if they were actually producing any scientific output.

    Or, I can answer Fuller’s rhetorical question, “But what if the teacher says that scientists trying to make sense of the Bible were inspired to do good science that we still accept today?”
    This would be prefectly acceptable.  The teacher would not be teaching science, but history of science.  The teacher would be describing our best scientific (not-faith-based) understanding of what happened in the past.

    What if the ID’ers just happen to be right in their belief: some intelligent force interfered in evolution and some day in the future this will be proven?  The school board’s decision to teach ID would still be improper because their decision was motivated by teaching religion in school and ID currently has no evidence to support it or a plausible way to detect design.  It would be as if Newton argued that his ideas should be taught in school not on the basis of any experiments, but because after the apple fell on his head God spoke to him: “F=ma!”

    Fuller writes, “If ID can reclaim religiously inspired scientists of the past for their side, then that can be used to compensate for the current empirical deficiencies of the programme...” As an argument on an op-ed page, such a strategy might work, but as an argument that ID is science or even “not-religion,” it fails.  Religiously inspired scientists of the past cannot be claimed by ID because after inspiration comes experimentation.  ID cannot experiment.  “[T]he current empirical deficiencies”? As if more, or any, empirical evidence were just around the corner…

    The fact that religion inspires science (or that science inspires religion) does not mean that science includes religion.

    As for Lawrence Sober’s tone, I find myself getting very frustrated with Fuller’s repeated posts which do not address the glaring problems pointed out in his arguments.  However, I generally skip by any post with multiple all-caps words inside it.  Angry writing is not very persuasive and often leads to faulty reasoning.

    Fuller, like everybody, probably finds it very difficult to admit they got something wrong.  The more you have invested in a position, the harder it is to admit a mistake.  Hostile arguments make admitting an error even more difficult.

    I might note that I am a lawyer, too, although not a very busy one.  Do I get a response?

    Posted by c&d  on  12/10  at  08:19 PM
  67. Ah! Thanks Michael.

    You say: “Fuller is not a charlatan or a con artist or a flim-flim man.” In my mind then, this makes him *far more* dangerous (or clueless I suppose). What did he expect the most likely consequences of his actions would be by testifying in the case? One possible consequence is that the IDists would prevail (and of course this is the goal of the defendant in the case). In that case the curriculum would (presumably) somehow be changed to be more ID-friendly.

    Now he is on the record as supporting the notion that ID ought to be included/taught in some form in the public school system. If he does not really believe or want that, but does want ID to get a fair shake in the scientific community, it is a serious lack of judgement to do so where a possible consequence is one he does not actually want. (Did that make any sense?)

    Posted by  on  12/10  at  08:36 PM
  68. I might note that I am a lawyer, too, although not a very busy one.  Do I get a response?

    Yep, c&d, I’m with you on both counts—with regard to the tone, and with regard to the source of our frustrations.

    In my mind then, this makes him *far more* dangerous (or clueless I suppose).

    Quentin, I’ve been tryin’ to say just that.  Way back up there in the original post, I was trying to make the point that Fuller speaking up on behalf of ID is, in my judgment, even more damaging (to him, to science studies, to science) than the BJP hijacking postmodernism.  And I think he should be taken more seriously than Behe, as well, and rebutted more carefully.

    Posted by Michael  on  12/10  at  08:45 PM
  69. Michael: “Let me be clear about this.  Fuller is not a charlatan or a con artist or a flim-flim man.  [...] He believes in falsification; he thinks Kuhn has had a bad influence both on science and on the philosophy of science.  How he gets from there—or from Nanda’s book—to Dover is something I still do not, and probably will never, understand.”

    Since you don’t understand, how can you be confident about what Fuller is?

    I myself still think that the evidence suggests religious bias as the motivating factor on his part.  That would make him not a charlatan or a con artist or a flim-flam man, but something more dangerous along the lines of Charles Murray.  Murray always denied that he was a racist, and perhaps even believes it.

    Note that I’m not reaching this conclusion merely on the basis of his historical theory.  It’s the historical theory plus the particular mode of activism that I think clinches it.

    So I don’t think that he’s a particularly interesting figure.  Bigotry covered by intellectual justification is common.  I predict that he’ll take up with the ID’ers institutionally, not because he needs or wants money but because of ideological sympathy, then publish a _Bell Curve_-like book, have his 15 minutes of fame, and finally become fully integrated into the right-wing machine, doing justified damage to the reputation of anyone associated with him in the long term.

    Posted by  on  12/10  at  09:34 PM
  70. All fascinating.  Except the philosopher that most comes to mind is Socrates-- who was executed for “corrupting the youth”.

    The compelling theme I’m taking from this is Michael’s query as to why high school.  If this ID, notwithstanding its origins as a dodge to get Creationism taught in taxpayer funded schools despite Constitutional injunction against doing that, really is some sort of valid scientific or even philosophical package of vieewpoint that will add to the scientific big picture, is why the target audience is not Ivy League university students, or better yet, graduate students or the post-graduate academy, but high school students, who are the least qualified to assess the empirical validity. 

    Indeed, we don’t teach high school students graduate school level English, Maths, or folk dance… why should we be exposing them to this “cutting edge science”? 

    We’ve tested our current liturgy of high school curriculum on our youth, more or less, for decades, albeit with some variation.  It’s invariably peer tested; and when something new gets introduced, it gets its “peer reviewed”
    add-ons at some teachers college, or two… or all of them… and is widely accepted from the top down, before we subject our children to it…

    We wouldn’t introduce a new curriculum change like this without the same sort of rigorous new testing that some Big Pharma Co. would do with a new wonder drug… would we?

    So… I tend to think that really is decisive here: the insistence of the ID movement in by-passing the “usual” way we get things introduced into the academic nutritional pyramid, and insisting that we take it “on faith"… kind of gives away the plot in my view…

    So… how do you’all take your hemlock?

    Posted by the talking dog  on  12/10  at  10:01 PM
  71. OK, let me apologise for simply responding to someone who says he’s a lawyer. But we wouldn’t be having this discussion if the US legal system did not create these opportunities for religion and science to come into conflict. If we were discussing which theory is empirically better supported, then it would take an entirely different course (at least in terms of what I would say). But matters are complicated by the rules of the legal game, and so these are worth taking especially seriously. This is a trial about what to teach kids, not what to publish in peer-reviewed journals or give Nobel Prizes to. I would treat all these matters separately.

    Moreover, I can’t respond to everyone and, contrary to what you might think, not all of your ‘objections’ seem all that telling to me – insofar as I can extract them from their often furious expression. So, for example, all the objections that concern what Neo-Darwinism has shown or can show strike me as prima facie beside the point. My preference for Popper over Kuhn comes in here. The fact that biology has a dominant paradigm is simply a sociological fact – not necessarily a normative standard against which to hold all potential alternatives.

    More telling objections have to do whether ID is so underdeveloped as a theoretical framework that it can’t be presented as a credible alternative research programme. Admittedly, I ‘always already’ read ID through the history of science, and there is a substantial backstory waiting to be mined. It has not been mined yet, and so it looks prima facie weak to those unfamiliar with it.

    Another point where I disagree with Kuhn comes in here: He too segregated history of science from science. In fact he thought it was essential to scientific progress not to dredge up old objections and alternatives. However, as a couple of people have noted here, the dominant science has its own tailor-made history. This often involves colonising the opposition and erasing the traces. Neo-Darwinism is really good at this. After all, Linnaeus and Mendel were ‘special creationists’ by today’s lights, yet modern evolutionary theory is presented as if it owns the right to these people’s work. Who enacted this bit of intellectual property law?  Why can’t ID re-appropriate the work of these scientists who in fact thought more like ID people?

    Finally, about what counts as science: If we applied today’s standard of how we judge something to be science to Darwinism circa 1925 (i.e. before Mendelian genetics has been incorporated fully into modern evolutionary synthesis), would we have allowed it to be taught in Dayton, Tennessee?

    Posted by  on  12/10  at  10:10 PM
  72. Rich Puchalski responds to the monotheism point of Dr. Fuller’s argument.  I tend to agree with Rich that a latent cultural supremacist argument lurks in Dr. Fuller’s analysis, but simply going ‘are too/are not’ does not help:  after all Fuller noted (I think on the previous thread) that it was too bad he wounded sensibilities etc. but the facts and history speak for themselves.  In particular, he argued that whether we like to face this or not, as *empirical fact* we can note that monotheistic approaches coming from the Abrahamic tradition underlie modern science.

    Instead of engaging in an empty revisionist history or speculative history (though Tanika Sarkar did remind me once that all history was speculative), I was hoping that Dr. Fuller could address the following three points:

    a) While I am not by any means a scholar of Hinduist or Buddhist or Confucian on other religious traditions, I know enough about at least Hinduism to know that it is a big mistake to presume pantheism means too many different gods to allow thinking about unified underlying causes.  Even on purely religious grounds, the Hindu tradition has both strong materialist as well as strong unified-spirit traditions, and also traditions that discuss the immanent as well as emmanent presence of spirit.  Fuller noted:

    “And I’m sorry if sounds politically incorrect, but the East’s tendency has been to become to reach for mystery (‘holism’) as it aspires to higher levels of synthesis. The West’s trick was to become more unified AND more precise: synthetic and analytic at the same time. Why? Well, because silly old Westerners – not just Christians but Jews and Muslims too – believed that some One Big Guy designed the universe and our job as humans created in his image and likeness is to figure it out and perhaps even complete it.”

    What makes holism different from synthetic?  And why would one argue that imprecision was a necessary component of one and not the other tradition?

    b) As Colin D. noted, there are plenty of Hindus (and Buddhists, and Muslims, and atheists, and…but let me stick to Hindus for now since the issue was the BJP) who are scientists.  What is Fuller’s position on the work of Abha Sur at MIT who studies the role of, among other things, the aesthetics of unity and order in the work of physicists like Chandrashekhar (and of chaos and resistance to hierarchy as an aesthetic in the work of someone like Saha who had to face caste discrimination)?  Here we have non-BJP folks doing not ‘Hindu’ science, but Science as Hindus or as informed by their social milieu, world view, and aesthetics.  This seems to at least indicate that just as one can emerge from monotheistic traditions and do Science, so too can one emerge from non-Abrahamic traditions and do Science – and do it in ways that are arguably informed by the social context and aesthetics of one’s background.  The difference here, btw, is the key difference between ID and Newton (that is what distinguishes a ‘Hindu scientist’ such as Chandrashekhar from the ‘Hindu science’ of the BJP – the science).

    c) Fuller also notes, in responding to the argument that *today*, there are scientists in India, China, and so on, that for better or for worse, this is a legacy of the West.  As a believer in hybridity (that ‘post’ thing) I have no quibble here – besides, I find origins to not be very interesting as the basis for arguing about current context and use anyway (very ‘post,’ – apparently also quite in line with evolutionary biology, well what to say!).  But if that is right – which I think it is – why would origins matter for assessing anybody, including either BJP or ID?  Aren’t we *all* today products of that encounter, so how does noting that one comes from Christianity and one does not *today* help to distinguish between the two in terms of which is or is not more assimilable for contemporary science?

    The difficulty I am having with this argument is that we move very quickly from origins to outcomes, even as data points that diverge from this (such as contemporary Indian or Chinese scientists) are set aside in a manner that *undoes* the argument from origin altogether.

    Thanks,

    Charu

    Posted by  on  12/10  at  11:10 PM
  73. Steve

    “But we wouldn’t be having this discussion if the US legal system did not create these opportunities for religion and science to come into conflict.”

    You mean the separation clause of the first amendment to the Constitution, right Steve? 

    I don’t know what conversation we’d be having if we lived in a theocracy, Steve.  I hope I’d be figuring out a way to overthrow the government.  You’d probably be consulting the Chief Cleric on Propaganda on interesting ways to condemn the secularist agitators.

    “The fact that biology has a dominant paradigm is simply a sociological fact – not necessarily a normative standard against which to hold all potential alternatives.”

    Huh?  Try again, Steve.  Stop trying to impress us all with your jargon.  Are you saying that the current explanation for the diversity of living things that ever lived on earth—a theory that has served scientists extraordinarily well for more than a century and, in its fundamental aspects is treated by biologists no differently than erosion is treated by geologists .... are you saying that this explanation is not the standard against which to compare all potential alternatives?

    I mean, you’re free to say that even if it does illustrate the depth of your self-delusion and willful ignorance.  But maybe you’re saying something else.  Do you believe also that in 100 years we’ll be laughing at all the attention geologists paid to erosion back in the 20th century?

    “I can’t respond to everyone and, contrary to what you might think, not all of your ‘objections’ seem all that telling to me – insofar as I can extract them from their often furious expression.”

    Hahahah.  Nice try.  I write clearly, Steve.  I try to keep it simple because I know that obfuscators like you hate it when you are asked to answer straightforward questions.

    How about the question I asked about above? Please name two of the “ideas” that you “found” that are unique to the “intelligent design” religious claim and that can be “developed” by scientists.

    I’m waiting, Steve.  I’m not sure why you keep avoiding the issue. 

    You weren’t lying to us, were you?

    Posted by  on  12/10  at  11:41 PM
  74. On the West-East science business:

    I am not denying that Hindus can do science or that there cannot be any fruitful hybrids between scientific research and Hindu beliefs. My main point is that it is unlikely that any other religious tradition, left to its own devices, would have arrived at the kind of science that ‘we’ (i.e. humanity) now consider canonical. And this has to do with the privileged place assigned to humans vis-à-vis the creative God in the Abrahamic tradition. For me the interesting point has less to do with God than with the privileging of humanity within nature, which I happen to like. But that’s probably another debate…

    This story of origins may be an uninteresting matter, which if dwelled on too much can lead to easy charges of racism. However, since I believe that science can be distinguished from other forms of knowledge precisely by its universal character, we must be clear sense about what we are trying to universalise and the process of universalisation. You see, I happen to be a contingent universalist – I believe it would have been perfectly possible for humans to live well and peacefully without science—though I doubt there would be so many of us or we would appear so ‘advanced’.

    ID, whatever its failings, does not claim to be a science just for Christians. It aspires to be a science that even non-Christians will take seriously, and that’s why ID people put up with – and sometimes even learn from—criticism and abuse from people who don’t share their religious beliefs. In fact, it claims to be an alternative version of the same science I just described. Perhaps BJP-style Hindu science aspires to universalism. But my impression from reading Nanda’s book is that it does not. Rather, it presupposes a relativist epistemology, using cultural nativism as a basis for political leverage. This strikes me as a significant difference from ID. But maybe I shortchange the Hindu science people?

    Posted by  on  12/10  at  11:45 PM
  75. Prof. Fuller:

    “.... Neo-Darwinism is really good at this....After all, Linnaeus and Mendel were ‘special creationists’ ....yet modern evolutionary theory is presented as if it owns the right to these people’s work. Who enacted this bit of intellectual property law?....”

    Um, well, because of the integration of Mendelian genetics with evolutionary biology, as you note when (mistakenly) comparing 1920’s evolutionary biology to current IDism ("… Mendelian genetics has been incorporated fully into modern evolutionary synthesis...").  In other words, Prof. Fuller, ID can claim Mendelian genetics when it also incorporates genetics into a successful empirical endeavor.  That’s the only way claims to territory are successfully staked in science.

    “Why can’t ID re-appropriate the work of these scientists who in fact thought more like ID people?”

    The context of discovery must be distinguished from the context of justificiation, I seem to remember a (wayward) sociologist of science arguing somewhere.  Again, Prof. Fuller, ID can re-appropriate this work, when it (well) actually re-appropriates it, empirically.

    Even if one brackets such objections Prof. Fuller, your claim support ID through the lens of the history of science.  Yet your argument is quite weak on this score.  Before you can properly use the prominence of theistic motivations of past succesful scientists to justify present-day ID, you must take into account those theistically-minded scientists who failed.  More precisely, you commit the base-rate fallacy.

    Finally, Prof. Fuller please do stick to Western history of science in your examples.  If you insist on talking about non-Western intellectual traditions such as India’s, do me a favor and actually engage with the texts of, say, Udayana or other members of the Navya Nyaya school of Indian logic; or even the orthodox vaidika schools.  If you do that then you will spare yourself (and us) embarassing tripe about “....the East’s tendency has been to become to reach for mystery (‘holism’) as it aspires to higher levels of synthesis....” Such laughable caricatures are clear evidence of your reliance on third- and fourth-hand accounts of Indian intellectual history.

    Try to base your argument for why science was necessarily a monotheistic invention on the facts-on-the-ground; it can be done.  I’ve read more than a few such accounts--which is not to say I found them ultimately persuasive.

    Kumar
    P.S., Prof. Fuller I take it your solicitude for the tender egos of monotheistic tykes doesn’t extend to all those ‘pagan’ tykes going to school (some of them going into the sciences eventually, and doing remarkably well), eh?

    Posted by  on  12/10  at  11:46 PM
  76. S. Charusheela, I had thought about bringing up Chandrashekhar (my favorite Chandrashekhar story, parenthetically: the time that he complained during a talk that observational astronomers always got to spend one slide on of a picture of their equipment, and then projected his next slide, which was of a No. 2 pencil).  But as far as I understand Fuller’s argument, the fact that there are Indian scientists now doesn’t matter; they are assumed to be mere transplants from the monotheistic West.  What’s important to Fuller is that India supposedly never could have developed science independently, and therefore, supposedly, Hindu Science is looking back to a cultural tradition that can not produce new scientific ideas *in the current day*.  Note how Fuller has shifted the terms of argument here.  Even if you accepted his historical thesis, which I do not, it doesn’t mean that a polytheism-influenced view might not motivate insights in the way that Fuller claims looking for design would.

    There are just too many ways in which Fuller’s statements don’t hold up as an argument.  Occam’s Razor says bigotry.

    Posted by  on  12/10  at  11:57 PM
  77. Is Fuller getting paranoid?

    “After all, Linnaeus and Mendel were ‘special creationists’ by today’s lights, yet modern evolutionary theory is presented as if it owns the right to these people’s work.”

    How about some evidence to back up this bizarre and (frankly) barely intelligible claim, Steve?

    From where I’m sitting (on planet earth), “theories” don’t “own” the rights to anything.  Moreover, facts about the universe that are discovered by scientists aren’t “owned” either—especially when those facts were discovered centuries ago!

    So what is Fuller is driving at?  Is he lamenting the fact that Mendel’s religion is not discussed in more detail in high school science classes?  Well, boo hooo hoo hoo hooo hooo!!!  Guess what, Steve?  All the textbooks I’m aware of do, in fact, make note of the fact Mendel was a monk.  Presumably they don’t go into greater detail because whether Mendel’s religion beliefs contributed or hindered the development of his theories is just a wee bit beside the point.

    How many textbooks point out that many scientific discoveries were made by atheists, Steve?  Seen any of those? 

    “Why can’t ID re-appropriate the work of these scientists who in fact thought more like ID people?”

    Again with the inarticulate blather which sure sounds a lot like whining or the expression of some kind of, uh, persecution complex.

    Religious people can believe whatever the want.  If their beliefs help them contribute to the scientific understanding of our world—an understanding that has saved quite a few lives in the last 100 years—then hooray for them.

    On the other hand, if their beliefs do not enable them to contribute to our understanding of the natural world, then no hoorays are necessary.

    And if these religious people then choose to engage in a purely political campaign to convince people that they are contributing to our understanding of the natural world when, as a matter of fact, they are merely reciting ancient arguments from ignorance which appeal to their religion’s deity, then they need to be dealt with as the unrepentant liars that they are.

    And there is the most imporant question of all: how do we deal with these sorts of organizations in our society?

    Why is that holocaust deniers aren’t pushing to “teach the controversy” in 9th grade history class?  Surely there are plenty of holocaust deniser on public school boards right now.  Why do these people keep their mouths shut?

    Note that I’m not asking why ID peddlers can’t keep their mouths shut.  I know the answer to that.  I’m asking why the holocaust deniers keep their mouths shut.

    Any thoghts from the peanut gallery?

    Posted by  on  12/11  at  12:10 AM
  78. I am not denying that Hindus can do science or that there cannot be any fruitful hybrids between scientific research and Hindu beliefs. My main point is that it is unlikely that any other religious tradition, left to its own devices, would have arrived at the kind of science that ‘we’ (i.e. humanity) now consider canonical.

    But isn’t this a post hoc, ergo propter hoc fallacy? I mean, considering that the scientific revolution is a singular event, how could we infer which conditions are necessary, which sufficient and which extraneous?

    Posted by  on  12/11  at  12:19 AM
  79. Rich:

    Prof. Fuller’s reasoning from the history of science is indeed quite weak.  In order for his argument to go through he has to caluclate the following:

    1.  The fraction of theistically-minded scientists who peddled successful scientific theories in the past (and now) and the fraction that failed.

    2.  The fraction of non-theists who succeeded in the sciences and the fraction that failed.

    I think this is practically impossible. 

    Kumar

    Posted by  on  12/11  at  12:20 AM
  80. Rich

    “There are just too many ways in which Fuller’s statements don’t hold up as an argument.  Occam’s Razor says bigotry.”

    I would agree and I’m certain that Fuller loves it when you say so.  In Fuller’s mind, that just reaffirms that he’s doing his job: creating “controversy” with his vapid jargon-laced baloney.  In his dreams, the books fly right off the shelves.

    “ID, whatever its failings, does not claim to be a science just for Christians.”

    That’s good because as I already pointed out to you, Steve, most Christians who are experts on the subject of biology think ID is a pile of garbage intended to smear science but which, ironically, appears to be accomplishing the goal of making Christians look like whining faithless liars.

    Posted by  on  12/11  at  12:24 AM
  81. Fuller’s argument appears to be that intelligent design might inspire some creative new ways of looking at things.  In short, he thinks biology needs a brainstorming session.

    Brainstorming, however, has formal rules and processes.  Among other things, after the free-wheeling, “anything goes” session of throwing out ideas, the chaff is winnowed away from the meaty ideas, and is discarded.

    ID doesn’t offer anything that anyone could point to as creative.  And what has been offered so far, 16 years into the life of “intelligent design” as a proposed alternative to evolution, is really just chaff.

    Sure, all science could use a brainstorming session from time to time.  Intelligent design represents the worst of the product from such thinking sessions, the stuff that is worthy to be discarded.  Fuller testified for the side that wants to inject that garbage into kids.

    Is there a code of ethics in philosophy?

    Posted by  on  12/11  at  12:34 AM
  82. Steve Fuller: “ID, whatever its failings, does not claim to be a science just for Christians.”

    That’s a very misleading statement.  If you believe that Christianity is true, then of course you believe that science will reveal universally Christian truths.  We’ve already heard ad nauseum about Behe’s belief that the designer is the Christian God and about the search-and-replace of the Panda book. 

    “It aspires to be a science that even non-Christians will take seriously”

    It’s too bad then that in science you only get taken seriously by being published.

    “, and that’s why ID people put up with – and sometimes even learn from—criticism and abuse from people who don’t share their religious beliefs. In fact, it claims to be an alternative version of the same science I just described.”

    How do you have an alternative version of a universal science?

    “Perhaps BJP-style Hindu science aspires to universalism. But my impression from reading Nanda’s book is that it does not. Rather, it presupposes a relativist epistemology, using cultural nativism as a basis for political leverage. This strikes me as a significant difference from ID.”

    And now I return to my previous remarks about your willingness to intercede politically in a science dispute.  How do you know that a relativist epistemology is incorrect?  After all, some HPS people do think that science is largely a social construction.  You don’t; that’s fine—but now because you don’t, you’re favoring one religion over another and interceding in a dispute over what should be taught in high school.

    I see no reason why your particular, personal disbelief in social construction would hold up in court as a reason for government to distinguish between ID and Hindu Science.  Your opinion is only as good as any other expert’s, and I see no way in which your historical theory of science’s origins is falsifiable, since as I’ve said before we only have one history.  So, Flying Spaghetti Monster here we come.

    “But maybe I shortchange the Hindu science people?”

    Maybe you do.  But if you support them as well, you become an odd sort of copy of the relativists that you disagree with.  Where they say that science is a social construction, you’d say it isn’t but that hey, since religion inspires scientists we might as well pretend that it is.

    Look, maybe I’m wrong about the bigotry that I see. I’d be happy to be wrong.  (I know I’m not wrong that your theories involve cultural superiority, because you say as much.) But it really does seem like, otherwise, you haven’t thought this through very well.  That seems odd from someone whose job it is to think about this full-time.

    Posted by  on  12/11  at  12:38 AM
  83. Dr. Fuller notes:

    “ID, whatever its failings, does not claim to be a science just for Christians. It aspires to be a science that even non-Christians will take seriously, and that’s why ID people put up with – and sometimes even learn from—criticism and abuse from people who don’t share their religious beliefs. In fact, it claims to be an alternative version of the same science I just described. Perhaps BJP-style Hindu science aspires to universalism. But my impression from reading Nanda’s book is that it does not. Rather, it presupposes a relativist epistemology, using cultural nativism as a basis for political leverage. This strikes me as a significant difference from ID. But maybe I shortchange the Hindu science people?”

    I am in agreement with at least the history (if not all the conclusions) in Dr. Fuller’s response till this last paragraph – though nothing in the first two paragraphs of Dr. Fuller’s post specifically explained the reason for a *current* distinction between ID and ‘Hindu science.’ That is raised with this last paragraph.

    First, I think perhaps Dr. Fuller, you missed the part of my post where I specifically noted the distinction between scientists who are Hindus, and ‘Hindu science’?  Chandrasekhar and Saha are not proponents of ‘Hindu science’ in the BJP sense of that word (the former, an astrophysicist, won the Nobel prize for the constant named after him, and the latter was a very well known physicist, first worked I think in quantum mechanics, later worked to establish nuclear physics in India). 

    So, if the issue is science as such, my post showed there is no necessary disjuncture between emergence from Hindu (or other) backgrounds and being a scientist. (I don’t think it is worth hijacking the thread into a detailed discussion about Hindu philosophical traditions here – though in terms of ‘Eastern’ traditions, I thought Amartya Sen is pretty good in _The Argumentative Indian_.) My simple point was that the religious background alone does give ID a ‘pass’ as compared to ‘Hindu science’ – in both cases, it is not the Christian-ness or Hindu-ness per se, but the science itself that decides what gets incorporated into the arena of legitimate science and what does not. 

    Second, I have a different reading of ID’s aspirations to universalism:  The ID folks seem to fail the criteria of scientific universalism by failing the criteria of science. Instead, I suggest that what we see here is the universalism of a proselytizing faith, which is quite a different type of universalist proposition than scientific universalism. 

    Thanks, Charu

    Posted by  on  12/11  at  12:41 AM
  84. Fuller said: 

    I only started reading the ID literature comprehensively once I had to decide whether to join the Dover case. What I was looking for – and found – were enough interesting ideas that could be developed by scientifically and philosophically sophisticated people without holding a particular religious viewpoint. Once so developed, they could pose a serious challenge to established science. But then one must ask: How is ID going to get that opportunity for development? Suspicion of ID’s religious motives results in a self-fulfilling prophecy: ID gets kept out of the schools and thrown back in the arms of the religious right. However, mainstreaming ID – especially as a talking point in science classes – allows for non-religious, non-rightist people to take up the ideas. The fact that ID science stays entirely with secular discourse makes that feasible. But I don’t see any of this happening, given the current institutional politics of science, without some sort of legal intervention. Dover was certainly less than ideal – as even the Discovery Institute realized. But there will never be a ‘good’ time for such things.

    The only thing stopping research from being done on intelligent design issues is the completely inexplicable reluctance of ID advocates to do any heavy lifting.  Every ID article ever proposed to a science journal has been published, even though they didn’t deserve it—so it’s a canard to claim that there is any bias against ID notions gaining print.  But as Judge Overton discovered in the Arkansas trial in 1981, those who cry “bias” themselves have completely and utterly failed to do anything to advance the science they claim to wish existed.  It’s still true for intelligent design creationism as it was in 1981 for all other forms of creationism:  The door is open for any real science results; advocates of creationism don’t do research, and so there is nothing to report.

    The old Chinese maxim still holds:  Teacher merely opens the door, the student must walk through.  Science holds the door open for even counterintuitive and business-wrecking ideas (see the most recent Nobels, which awarded ideas on ulcer treatments which negated the multi-billion dollar investments of pharmaceutical companies).  Intelligent design can get into the textbooks any time some advocate produces real science results.  There are no plans to do such research now.

    Why should we wait for an idea which has only vapor research to show after 16 years?

    Posted by  on  12/11  at  12:47 AM
  85. Kumar: “In order for his argument to go through he has to calculate the following:

    1.  The fraction of theistically-minded scientists who peddled successful scientific theories in the past (and now) and the fraction that failed.”

    Well, that’s why Fuller tends to collapse all science down into the origin of science, and all of the origin of science down into Newton.  A “Great Man” theory of science allows you to base whatever theories you want on the opinions of a single Great Man.

    To move this away from Fuller for a moment, one of the interesting pieces in response to Sokal was by Mara Beller.  I don’t agree with many of the conclusions of the piece, but it does point out that some scientists have indeed engaged in wooly linkages between science concepts and political or religious ones.  Reading through it, I’m not impressed by the idea that maybe what we need is a lot more encouragement for scientists to think of themselves as religious investigators looking at the mind of God.

    Posted by  on  12/11  at  12:52 AM
  86. Fuller, in the previous thread, writes
    At the end of the day, the main argument for design is an attenuated version of Kant’s view that we need to presuppose a purposeful unity in science in order for science to be possible – at least at the scale and intensity in which Newton did it. The question to ask here is what value, if any, does atheism contribute to good science?

    What raise the whole issue of the subjective and merely regulative principle of teleological judgment is the issue of self-organizing nature--organism. Everything in nature is good for something and nothing is gratuitous--nature is purposive in the whole. But all this principle does is provide inquiry with the assurance that we can find nature intelligible even when its working seem to go beyond mechanism. It does not, and Kant is explicit about this, let us claim that “grass is there for cattle and sheep” or that things are there for humanity. It produces no specific hypotheses or predictions--the principle of teleology is not a scientific claim at all--it is a claim that is meant to legitimate scientific inquiry. Finite minds like ours have to go about science in such a way that we attribute teleological causation in some cases. Kant’s aim is to show that is legitimate. It is not a claim that nature was designed--it is just a claim that we cannot avoid talking about it in terms that might suggest that and that it is legitimate to do so.

    But this is precisely what makes ID vacuous as scientific programme, if it is a attenuation of Kant’s claim. If all it is is an an update of the third Critique then it has nothing--absolutely nothing--to contribute to what biologists do. For Kant, biologist must already think in teleological term and are subjectively justified in doing so. How they go about making hypotheses, testing them, evaluating rival theories and the like is untouched by this.

    On Fuller’s own testimony, then, it seems that nothing scientific can come out of ID. At most it might be slightly edifying commentary on “order in the universe.” If only it weren’t so political pernicious.

    Posted by  on  12/11  at  01:04 AM
  87. Prof. Fuller finds interesting ideas in ID, yet believes in falsifiability and Popper’s rationalism.

    But ID is in itself not falsifiable. And arguing that the idea of a creator may be a useful notion for some scientists is completely beside the point.

    The Indian mathematician Srinivasa Ramanujan made all his work inspired by a goddess who appeared to him in visions. This makes his history interesting, as do Newton’s alchemical aspirations, but are utterly beside the point when judging his theorems.

    And arguing from a notion that scientific thought in some way has implicitly assumed a creator (at least historically) is like some philosphers who argued against general relativity by saying that the human mind must necessarily perceive geometry as rectilinear (Cartesian), and so science should not include a non-Cartesian universe in its theories. The argument is simply beside the point.

    Prof. Fuller: If you want us to take ID seriously as science, then point os to the empirical evidence for the design process, or at least explain to us how it might be falsified.

    And let me repeat my previous question: If ID were to be disproved experimentally, would the people behind it accept that? Would Behe?

    Posted by Carsten Agger  on  12/11  at  02:54 AM
  88. There is a whole lot of misunderstanding here.

    The first sentence of my last post was designed to concede the point that Charu wants to press on me about people like Chandrasekhar and Saha. I am sorry that was not clear. However, I do think we still disagree about ID.

    As for Rich: You don’t seem to realize that social constructivism and relativism are independent philosophical positions. One does not necessarily imply the other. I happen to be very well known as a social constructivist but I’m not a relativist. I’m actually a universalist, but I believe the universal is socially constructed. Can you get your head around that idea? Who else held this view? Well, Otto Neurath of the Vienna Circle fame certainly did, and the logical positivists more generally when they seemed like they were using ‘Unity of Science’ as a front for world socialism. The positivists didn’t think the sciences were already unified. The philosophical project was to unify them under a common language, etc. I also think Comte, Hegel and Marx could be fitted into this viewpoint, as well as imperialism and proselytism, both of which I think have been vital to the spread of the scientific world-view.  To be constructivist about universals is to believe that things become universalised.

    Not surprisingly, this combination of universalism and constructivism might incline one to political activism of the sort you object to. Scientists however have never been averse to political activism on their behalf. The relevant example here is the US National Academy of Science endorsing the pseudo-philosophy of ‘methodological naturalism’ as the scientific attitude. Naturalism is normally a metaphysical position that has been historically hostile to monotheism, but political defenders of science don’t want to stress that part, which would alienate all the scientists who try to keep their religious beliefs tucked away in one side of their brain. So ‘methodological’ gets introduced to make it look as though the NAS is only talking about some weak version of positivism. In fact, real logical positivists tended to be anti-naturalistic because they believed that the scientific method shouldn’t be metaphysically biased. So, what we have here is a made-to-order ideology, just as cleverly crafted as you guys think ‘intelligent design’ is.

    And yes, my view is heterodox in science studies, which tends to associate constructivism with relativism, on the one hand, and realism and universalism, on the other. But these are all independent positions that can be mixed and matched as you please.

    Posted by  on  12/11  at  09:34 AM
  89. Prof. Fuller: You have not yet addressed the fact that ID is not falsifiable or stated what your and other ID proponents’ position would be should it be falsified after an experiment to distinguish ID from evolution has been proposed.

    I believe the burden of falsifiability must be on whoever proposes or defends a scientific theory, not on whoever disputes it.

    If I point out that ID is not falsifiable you must either explain why it is indeed falsifiable or concede that it is not a valid scientific theory.

    Arguments such as “we need to presuppose a purposeful unity in science in order for science to be possible” are like the previously cited arguments against Einstein’s general relativity on the grounds that its geometry is not Cartesian and Cartesian geometry is “presupposed” by the human mind - irrelevant, beside the point.

    Another thing:
    You say that “I’m actually a universalist, but I believe the universal is socially constructed”.

    Prof. Fuller, if you’re an universalist but believe the universal is socially constructed, then you are a relativist. Your universals only exist relative to the social construction, and different social constructions would yield different, equally valid universals.

    Sir, that is relativism, and believing this makes you a relativist.

    If you now insist that yes, your universals are a social construction but actually your universals are better than other people’s universals, you do not for this reason cease to be a relativist; you still believe the universals are relative to (constructed by) the social setting, but you believe your social setting is superior to or more valid than the other people’s. That would make you still a relativist, but also a bigot.

    But that’s a very secondary observation. The central question is the falsifiability thing, and I would like to see you address it. Of course, addressing valid criticism is difficult, and responding to the least important points first is obviously easier. But we are still waiting, Professor.

    Posted by Carsten Agger  on  12/11  at  10:18 AM
  90. Steve Fuller: “You don’t seem to realize that social constructivism and relativism are independent philosophical positions. One does not necessarily imply the other. I happen to be very well known as a social constructivist but I’m not a relativist. I’m actually a universalist, but I believe the universal is socially constructed. Can you get your head around that idea?”

    I understand it very well.  As you yourself imply, it is a form of proselytism or imperialism.  It means that a particular society can construct a universal truth that will impose itself on all societies.  I fully understand why you’re attracted to Christian pseudoscience; it shares the same goals.

    I don’t think that the other people reading this thread really understand what Fuller is up to.  It’s a kind of neo-conservative philosophy of science, in which a “left” social constructionist decides to turn to “right” universalism using the same methods.  As such it combines the worst of both: it denies that science is universalized because of conformance to the natural world, and it proposes that the then-existing differences in social construction can be and should be used for some cultures to dominate or replace others.  It’s made to order for unexamined bigotry, just as the neo-conservatives aren’t concerned about their project.

    That’s why I’m not really joining in to the standard criticisms of I d that others are trying.  I don’t think that Fuller really cares about ID.

    Posted by  on  12/11  at  10:58 AM
  91. I’m going to try to answer Carsten and Rich together, but Rich has got to promise to stop hyper-ventilating!

    First, on ID’s falsifiability (And I take it you mean ID of the Behe-Dembski variety, not its historical precursors): Generally speaking, falsifiability pertains to empirical hypotheses, and here it seems to me that ID does not have enough of a research programme off the ground to falsify its own hypotheses. So it has mainly tried to falsify evolutionary hypotheses, typically by saying that it would take too long for, say, the bacterial flagella to have emerged simply through Darwinian processes. However, at least one aspect of ID work has been subject to serious technical scrutiny, which might count as falsifiability at a theoretical level. I mean here Dembski’s ‘explanatory filter’ – i.e. a procedure for determining that something is the product of neither necessity nor chance but design. It seems to me that this is quite crucial groundwork for ID, and Dembski has made some modifications in light of criticism. Now, all of this is happening without any mention of God, and in principle anyone regardless of religious persuasion could get involved in the project of developing ID. So I don’t see blind faith posing an obstacle to ID being falsifiable.

    In this respect, there may be something to (I think) Bob Koepp who said that I was jumping the gun trying to get ID in the classroom NOW. I like to see what I’m doing here as ‘intellectual hothousing’. (I can see the brickbats already!) Unlike many here, I am sanguine that with enough time and resources, ID can become a full-fledged research programme but it may some ‘affirmative action’.

    Now, on relativism, constructivism, universalism, etc.: Contra Rich’s reading, when I mentioned proselytism, imperialism, etc. as forms of constructivist universalism, I was simply listing, not endorsing, them. The pertinent point is that if you’re a constructivist, the universal always begins as a particular (in that sense ‘relative to’ some starting point) and then spreads outward. Of course, historically, this ‘spreading’ has often involved coercion and imposition but it can also involve negotiation and mutual transformation. For example, in Hegel, freedom is arbitrary will when only one person (the ‘oriental despot’) has it, but as more and more people are free, the will becomes rational. Similarly, one might say for science that as it spreads globally, it loses its cultural parochialism.

    For its part, relativism can be either constructivist or realist. Science studies in the postmodern mode tends to be relativist constructivist, but the older science studies of the Edinburgh School and classical anthropology were relativist realist – i.e. they believed there were facts of the matter about the culture of, say, the tribe under study, which the anthropologist aimed to discover, not invent or negotiate. This is not to deny that culture itself is a product of the activities of the natives, but the anthropologist is supposed to treat those social constructions as an objective reality.

    Posted by  on  12/11  at  12:53 PM
  92. Steve Fuller writes: ”Finally, about what counts as science: If we applied today’s standard of how we judge something to be science to Darwinism circa 1925 (i.e. before Mendelian genetics has been incorporated fully into modern evolutionary synthesis), would we have allowed it to be taught in Dayton, Tennessee?

    Long before Mendel (noted as being a monk in all my textbooks) began studying peas the inheritance of phenotypic characteristics was recognized as was the utility of selection in increasing the proportion of a population exhibiting particular traits. Darwinian theory also depended on confirmation of common descent which was supported by research in paleontology. So, yes, I think Darwinian theory would rightfully be taught in Tennessee, circa 1925. It did not require the neo-Darwinian synthesis of the 1930’s. (FYI - Thomas Hunt Morgan’s book _The Physical Basis of Heredity_ was published in 1919.)

    In a later comment, Steve Fuller writes: ”However, at least one aspect of ID work has been subject to serious technical scrutiny, which might count as falsifiability at a theoretical level. I mean here Dembski’s ‘explanatory filter’ – i.e. a procedure for determining that something is the product of neither necessity nor chance but design. It seems to me that this is quite crucial groundwork for ID, and Dembski has made some modifications in light of criticism.

    *Slight* modifications. And it is generally considered to be unworkable because it still relies on negative arguments. How would the explanatory filter work to demonstrate design in biological systems without first eliminating natural processes? I do not understand how criticism of Dembski’s filter can in any way “falsify” design explanations.

    Traditionally, the necessary, “crucial groundwork for ID” is first finding a mechanism or agent capable of influencing the history of an object. The rest is much easier after that.  The problem for the ID’ers is that they have to approach the problem from the wrong direction because they completely lack any tangible idea about a possible agent.

    Regarding affirmative action and being sanguine about the prospects of ID: In this area, are we perhaps stepping beyond the bounds of the history and sociology of science and actually moving quite far into the *actual* scientific details? Wouldn’t having a strong background in the biological sciences be of better service here?

    Posted by  on  12/11  at  01:51 PM
  93. Professor Fuller is quoted approvingly here. Human Events named, as I recall, Origin of Species as one of the worst books of all time.

    Posted by Jonathan  on  12/11  at  02:06 PM
  94. http://www.humaneventsonline.com/article.php?print=yes&id=10570

    Corrected link.

    Posted by Jonathan  on  12/11  at  02:11 PM
  95. Prof. Fuller:

    It is amusing watching you dance around the central questions about your position.  But I am ever hopeful, so let me try again.

    “....However, at least one aspect of ID work has been subject to serious technical scrutiny, which might count as falsifiability at a theoretical level.”

    ‘Technical scrutiny’ amounts to falsifiability?  You really are serious about ‘affirmative action’ for ID, I guess.  Pretty much any half-way involved criticism amounts to ‘falsification’ then--you’re no longer in Popper-land.  I think this amounts to a reductio of your position, but I’m sure you will bite that bullet.

    “....Dembski has made some modifications in light of criticism....”

    Really?  Do list a few of these for my edification.  There really aren’t any substantive modifications of his ‘theories’.  SOP for the Isaac Newton of Information Theory is to basically ignore critiques of his work.  Moreover, these critiques are quite devastating and ‘modifying’ his ‘theories’ is not enough--the latter-day Isaac Newton will have to go back to the drawing board.

    “.....may be something to [the criticism] that I was jumping the gun trying to get ID in the classroom NOW....”

    Gee, ya think so, Perfesser? 

    “....Unlike many here, I am sanguine that with enough time and resources, ID can become a full-fledged research programme but it may some ‘affirmative action’....”

    Yes, I know that you’re on sidelines cheering on the IDists.  But your responsibility as a philosopher is to provide at least some rational basis for your credulity about ID.  Otherwise, you are just another man-on-the-street.

    Complaining, say, that evolutionary biologists have unfairly ‘appropriated’ Mendel won’t do!  Again, the ‘appropriation’ consists of integrating Mendelian genetics into a successful empirical research program.  Your IDist buddies can lay claim to Mendel when they do the same thing.

    Finally, Prof. Fuller, your ‘universalism’ seems a bit cramped to me since you are only concerned about the sensibility of ‘monotheist’ kids in science class, and not all of the ‘pagan’ kids studying in those classes. 

    Kumar

    Posted by  on  12/11  at  02:16 PM
  96. "I’m going to try to answer Carsten and Rich together, but Rich has got to promise to stop hyper-ventilating!”

    Hyperventilating?  No.  You’re on a literary blog, so you may want to look up “the death of the author”.  If your own description of the reasons for your remarks is incoherent, people get to construct a coherent one.  Your reasons are strained beyond credulity.

    “Now, on relativism, constructivism, universalism, etc.: Contra Rich’s reading, when I mentioned proselytism, imperialism, etc. as forms of constructivist universalism, I was simply listing, not endorsing, them.”

    Oh? You wrote the following:

    “I also think Comte, Hegel and Marx could be fitted into this viewpoint, as well as imperialism and proselytism, both of which I think have been vital to the spread of the scientific world-view.  To be constructivist about universals is to believe that things become universalised.”

    From the “both of which” phrase I took the sentence to mean that “imperialism and proselytism have been vital to the spread of the scientific world-view”.  Did you miswrite this sentence?  It appears to be fully consistent with the rest of your views.  Monotheism, for example, isn’t something that you’re saying is true per se, it’s just that a monotheistic view benefits science.  Similarly you could say that you aren’t exactly endorsing imperialism and proselytism, you’re saying that they are / were vital to the spread of science.  (This confusion between past and present is a large part of your argument.  It’s why you can say that something was important to Newton and therefore imply that it is still important now.)

    So I’m still not seeing any change in what I’ve seen from the start.  Just like Charles Murray did with respect to racism, you can say that you don’t endorse religious discrimination or cultural imperialism—they are just regrettable necessities, politically incorrect “facts” that people “have to deal with”.

    Posted by  on  12/11  at  03:38 PM
  97. Steve Fuller:  “...Unlike many here, I am sanguine that with enough time and resources, ID can become a full-fledged research programme ...”

    Aside from the fact that this is an admission that ID is not now a full-fledged research programme, it leads to another question: 

    Why should ID be given time in science classes, but not every other not-a-science-but-give-us-time theory?  Starting with astrology, which many people believe in.

    Posted by  on  12/11  at  04:08 PM
  98. Steve, how about answering some straightforward questions instead of continuing on with your script?

    “After all, Linnaeus and Mendel were ‘special creationists’ by today’s lights, yet modern evolutionary theory is presented as if it owns the right to these people’s work.”

    How about some evidence to back up this bizarre and (frankly) barely intelligible claim, Steve?

    From where I’m sitting (on planet earth), “theories” don’t “own” the rights to anything.  Moreover, facts about the universe that are discovered by scientists aren’t “owned” either—especially when those facts were discovered centuries ago!

    All the textbooks I’m aware of do, in fact, make note of the fact Mendel was a monk.  Presumably they don’t go into greater detail because whether Mendel’s religion beliefs contributed or hindered the development of his theories is just a wee bit beside the point in high school biology class.

    How many textbooks point out that many scientific discoveries were made by atheists, Steve?  Seen any of those?

    Posted by  on  12/11  at  04:32 PM
  99. Steve

    “So ‘methodological’ gets introduced to make it look as though the NAS is only talking about some weak version of positivism. In fact, real logical positivists tended to be anti-naturalistic because they believed that the scientific method shouldn’t be metaphysically biased. So, what we have here is a made-to-order ideology, just as cleverly crafted as you guys think ‘intelligent design’ is.”

    This is just a lie.  Fuller is arguing that the National Academy of Sciences to the Discovery Institute.

    So now Fuller is aligning himself with the conspiracy theorist wing of the ID peddlers (as opposed to the “world’s scientists are collectively deluded” wing).

    Where is your evidence, Steve, to support your claim that the NAS has a positive agenda to attack religious faith?

    Simply because scientists do not invoke deities or “invisible mysterious beings with indescribably awesome powers for which no evidence exists” to explain phenomena, how does that make scientists any more antagonistic to religious beliefs than my plumber?  Or my weatherman?

    Steve is just echoing the Johnsonite Christian cult’s fundamental proposition: “turn the train around.” That is, Jesus Christ must be inserted back into our legal system (which Steve has already trashed) and into our government at all levels, where Jesus Christ belongs.

    And the “Perfesser” continues to ignore basic facts about the history of creationist peddling and how that incessant constant peddling of creationist ideas has managed to warp .

    Scientists in the US are not systematically trying to purge religious people from their ranks.  Their response to creationism peddlers who try to shove their religious beliefs down the throats of public school kids in science classes is just that: a response.  Who can blame them for responding?

    Scientists are asked to explain why “ID” is worthless garbage and they do so.  Now that explanation is cited by Fuller as evidence of a “fake ideology” and, therefore, science and religion are on the same footing when it comes to explaining the natural world?

    That’s a joke.  And it would be funny—just like Sasquatch is funny and UFOs are funny and psychics like that John Edward guy are funny to all educated people—except that a propaganda machine funded by some Christian reconstructionist and staffed with HIV-denying anti-science bigots is doing its best to spread lies about scientists to gullible American rubes.

    And Steve Fuller is helping them. 

    Someone here said that Steve Fuller is not a con man.  Someone here has been deceived.

    But that’s okay.  We’ve all been taken in by hucksters at some point in our lives.  It can be embarassing but, hey, just admit it, learn from your mistakes and life goes on.

    Someday Mr. Fuller may admit that he is reciting his garbage and ignoring plain indisputable facts of the ID peddlers in order to please himself and line his pocketbook.  I’m not holding my breath, though.  Fuller doesn’t seem like the kind of man who would admit such a thing.

    Posted by  on  12/11  at  04:54 PM
  100. Rich, you’re hyperventilating again, this time in French. While I do believe that imperialism and proselytism were historically vital to the spread of science, there are other strategies of constructing the universal that are preferable, and that’s why I mentioned Hegel in the last post. Is (or was) need not imply Ought (or will be). I try not to commit the naturalistic fallacy myself, and ironically enough, it turns out that I criticize Charles Murray just as you would criticize him in my new book The New Sociological Imagination (Sage, 2006), p. 24. In fact, this book spends a lot of time worrying that pan-Darwinism is leading us down precisely the path of ‘regrettable necessities’. Exhibit A: Steven Pinker’s The Blank Slate.

    As for the state of Darwinism in 1925, I think Unsympathetic Reader is oversympathetically reading the Neo-Darwinian synthesis into a period before it kicked in. Morgan’s Physical Basis of Heredity (and some other works of his as well) pre-date Scopes, but as I recall it mentions Darwin only in a couple of lines at the end basically saying that Mendelian genetics, in addition to all the other wonderful things it can do, it can also make sense of Darwinian natural selection. I would say this provides as much (or as little) support as a major work on information theory saying – in a couple of lines – that it can also make sense of Dembski’s design detector. As for common descent, yes it was certainly the learned Darwinian view, but it wasn’t the view of the evolution textbooks, esp. Hunter’s Civic Biology, the one used in Dayton. That still used a linear model of evolution. (It also had a load of nasty racism based on human/ape anatomical comparisons.) Now, admittedly, Ken Miller’s high school evolution text (the current US best seller) got raked over the coals in the Dover trial for saying that natural selection was a ‘random’ process. So maybe textbooks aren’t the most reliable guide to the state of a theory, but one shouldn’t read the future into the past either. So I think the jury would still be out if we applied our standards of science to Darwinism circa 1925.

    As for Dembski’s dealings with criticism, I should start by saying that I am about as much an expert on ID as I am on evolution. This is not some great confession or cop out but something I said under oath in court, when it came to delimiting my expertise. Thus, if you’ve noticed I’ve pretty much stuck to historical, philosophical and sociological comments. No one would confuse me with a working natural scientist. (‘Laughter from the Gallery’) I am more like a science connoisseur. (‘More laughter’) So, I can’t say whether the man has dealt with all the criticisms of his work as effectively as you would like. However, it’s clear that he’s being attacked on many fronts at once: people mischaracterizing his position, declaring it impossible or incoherent, and also more technical criticism that presupposes the prima facie validity of the project. All this means so far is that the ID research programme has had an epistemologically mixed reception from people whose first response is not to invalidate it on religious grounds. I’ve looked at Dembski’s responses to the more conceptual objections on his website – e.g. that he defines design only negatively – and I see them as basically buying himself time until he comes up with an improved version of the design detector. Dembski seems to me quite good at showing that his opponents deny him assumptions some version of which they themselves make. Whether Dembski (and other ID people) ends up with something worth talking about once this borrowed time is up, that remains to be seen. In any case, it could only help if more scientists got involved – especially non-religious ones – to see if the project can be moved forward.

    Posted by  on  12/11  at  05:09 PM
  101. I want to give half-credit where half-credit might be due.

    Specifically, I asked Fuller to tell us two of the “ideas” (plural) that he claimed to have “found” which were allegedly unique to the religious belief that mysterious alien beings created all the live forms that have ever lived on earth, and that could be “developed” by scientists.

    Fuller just might have attemped to answer that question when he wrote the following sentences which are so appallingly misleading that, once again, we can only conclude that they are intended to deceive:

    “However, at least one aspect of ID work has been subject to serious technical scrutiny, which might count as falsifiability at a theoretical level. I mean here Dembski’s ‘explanatory filter’ – i.e. a procedure for determining that something is the product of neither necessity nor chance but design.”

    Dembski is a notorious and well-documented liar and his “filter” is a pile of rubbish that was dead on arrival, described by one honest mathematician as being “written in jello.” Dembski’s filter, since it worthless garbage and doesn’t actually exist as a functioning “algorithm”, has never been applied by any human on earth to detect anything.

    Here’s the question: given that it’s 2005, how is it possible that Fuller is not aware of these highly relevant facts?

    Here’s the answer: Fuller is mathematically illiterate and he’s a gullible rube who believes and pays attention only to

    Yes, folks, human beings actually do behave that way!  Can you believe it?  And—gasp!—Steve Fuller, an allegedly expert in some liberal art or the other—is a quintessential example.  Phil Johnson—the godfather of “inteligent design”—is an HIV-denier.  Howard Ahmonsen, the guy who funds the Discovery Institute, spent millions of dollars and years supporting a Christian reconstructionist movement and a truly foul bigot named Rushdoony.

    Steve Fuller is helping these folks out, and he wants you to believe he is doing so because he “cares” about “fairness” and “intellectual honesty.” Is that reasonable?

    Quite a few intelligent and seemingly honest people commenting here think not.  But maybe we’re all “deluded”.

    Fuller again:

    “It seems to me that this is quite crucial groundwork for ID, and Dembski has made some modifications in light of criticism.”

    The “explanatory filter” was dead on arrival and it’s still dead and—guess what—it will never be useful for understanding the evolution of life on earth because life on earth (gasp!!!) evolved without the detectable constant intervention of Michael Behe’s personal deity as surely as the Grand Canyon was eroded without the detectable constant intervention of “The Master Painter” or Shiva or Ploink Ploink or the Flying Spaghetti Monster or any other imaginary deity or set of deities.

    Does that mean that Dembski isn’t “allowed” to continue to peddle his baloney and that Fuller isn’t “allowed” to pretend that Dembksi isn’t a charlatan of the lowest order?  Of course not.  It just means that serious honest people will get justifiably get tired of watching Fuller and Dembksi engage in their smearing of scientists with lies and half-truths and those serious honest people will begin to call Fuller and Dembski what they are: bullshxt artists, and particularly noxious ones at that, right up there with the HIV and holocaust deniers.

    Fuller again:

    “Now, all of this is happening without any mention of God”

    Okay hold on a second ... (ten seconds pass)

    Bill Dembski: “Intelligent design, on the other hand, readily embraces the sacramental nature of physical reality. Indeed, intelligent design is just the Logos theology of John’s Gospel restated in the idiom of information theory.”

    Bill Dembski: “This leads Dembski to conclude that “Christ is indispensable to any scientific theory.”

    Bill Dembski: “ID is not a mechanistic theory, and it’s not ID’s task to match your pathetic level of detail in telling mechanistic stories.”

    Again, Fuller wants us to believe that it is reasonable for Fuller to believe that Dembski is an honest human being whose “ideas” can be developed by scientists.

    Is that reasonable?  Please consider all the facts.  That includes you, too, Pancho Koepp.

    Posted by  on  12/11  at  05:21 PM
  102. Barry wrote
    “Aside from the fact that this is an admission that ID is not now a full-fledged research programme, it leads to another question:

    Why should ID be given time in science classes, but not every other not-a-science-but-give-us-time theory?  Starting with astrology, which many people believe in.”

    Yes, and if ID, then why not the flying spaghetti monster? I find the theory of the flying spaghetti monster as least as well-founded and corroborated as ID.

    After Prof. Fuller’s last response, I believe that we can conclude that the flying spaghetti monster theory is not less falsifiable than ID, so without making any claims regarding other schools, any school including ID in its curriculum should, in the interest of affirmative action, also tell its student that some people believe the world was created by a flying spaghetti monster (with meatballs).

    And no, ID cannot be lumped with methodological naturalism; the latter ("don’t invoke the name of GOD") is more or less a simple rule of thumb, a part of the name of the game in classical physics: You might assume God set up the basic rules, but don’t invoke him in your theories to cover your model’s shortcomings.

    So ... by associating methodological naturalism with mainstream science, and further painting it black by considering it “imposed”, and claiming it to be on a par with ID, you’re creating a straw man and knocking it down, as far as I can see, for ideological rather than philosophical or scientific reasons.

    C’mon - you give me one - *one* valid example of a constructive and necessary use of God in a classical physical theory (classical, to make it easier for you - quantum mechanics is different) - and I’ll reconsider my stance. Wait, you can’t?

    Oh, well ... maybe it’s because methodological naturalism is a useful *and indispensable* rule of thumb in classical physics; it has nothing to do with ideology at all.

    And I’m telling you this as a physicist. It’s not because we mind religion or wish to push any sort of belief, it’s just a part of the name of the game: Don’t invoke the Name of the Lord!

    Bottom line: Science is fundamentally independent of religion (but may be spurred by it, as in the case of above-mentioned Ramanujan), and no theological argument may ever be used in scientific matters ...
    and the notion of “irreduceable complexity” is, alas, a theological argument (and not very new, to boot) - not a scientific one.

    Posted by Carsten Agger  on  12/11  at  05:23 PM
  103. The funnest part of trashing ID peddlers is that they never know when to shut up.

    “Thus, if you’ve noticed I’ve pretty much stuck to historical, philosophical and sociological comments.”

    Are Dembski’s comments above part of “history”, Perfesser?  What about the history which shows that the ID peddlers substitute their “theory” for the term “creation science” in their textbook?  Is that no part of “history” Perfesser?  What about the fact that the DI is funded by a Christian fundamentalist?  Is that not part of “history” Perfesser?  What about the fact that Discovery Institute promoted the teaching of “ID theory” as science in public school science classes when the scientific utility of ID is zilcho and when the overwhelming consensus of experts—Christian and non-Christian—is that “ID” merely religious propaganda? Is that not history?  And what about the fact that Jon Ryland of the Discovery Institute denied that the Discovery Institute had ever promoted the teaching of ID in public schools when, in fact, the evidence incontrovertibly showed the opposite?

    Are you really interested in “history” Mr. Fuller?  I think you are interested in “history” in the same way that your average holocaust denier or HIV denier is interested in “history.” History, like any other field, is just a source of information from which you can selectively pick “data” to argue your personal ideology, regardless of the mountains of evidence contradicting your claims—evidence which you refuse to address.

    No one would confuse me with a working natural scientist. ...So, I can’t say whether the man has dealt with all the criticisms of his work”

    Why don’t you ask the “working scientists” who have collectively written Dembski off as a buffoon.

    “In any case, it could only help if more scientists got involved – especially non-religious ones – to see if the project can be moved forward.”

    Or abandoned.  Sometimes hypotheses turn out to be wrong, Mr. Fuller.

    Just out of curiosity, Mr. Fuller, do you consider yourself a Christian?

    I’m trying to understand why you are so gullible when it comes to this ID nonsense and why you insist on ignoring plain facts which show you empty your arguments are and how disturbingly (and selectivey) ill-informed you are. 

    My experience has taught me that Christians are particularly susceptible to this ID crap.  Just out of curiosity, are you a Christian?

    For the record, I consider myself a “born again” Christian.

    Posted by  on  12/11  at  05:35 PM
  104. Carsten

    “any school including ID in its curriculum should, in the interest of affirmative action, also tell its student that some people believe the world was created by a flying spaghetti monster (with meatballs).”

    Another new “scientific theory” along those lines is “gay intelligent designers” theory which claims that the deities worshipped by Christians and which “clearly” designed the universe were gay.  A corrolary of the theory is that Jesus was a homosexual with something of a foot fetish, which explains a lot of “history” that was documented in the Christian Bible.

    The advocates of this theory suggest that one of its advantages is that it would lead to the development of new research programs and simultaneously might encourage kids to explore their creative potential instead of becoming reality-denying bigots.

    I have no idea what they’re talking about, but perhaps Mr. Fuller, the “historian”, can explain.

    Posted by  on  12/11  at  05:47 PM
  105. More facts about the Discovery Institute liars who Steve Fuller “believes” are going to “renew” science in the United States:

    http://www.pandasthumb.org/archives/2005/12/more_di_dishone.html#new-comments

    This is just a drop in the pocket, as those of us who are honest and paying attention know.  The DI releases misinformation to the press on a regular basis—just as any serious propagandist organization would be expected to.

    Are you paying attention, Bob Koepp?

    Posted by  on  12/11  at  05:58 PM
  106. Carsten

    “maybe it’s because methodological naturalism is a useful *and indispensable* rule of thumb in classical physics; it has nothing to do with ideology at all.”

    Moreover, all of us—religious and non-religious alike—use methodological naturalism every day when we rely on our experience and senses to help us find the food and water and shelter which we need to live.

    I guess I should clarify: we don’t “all” rely on methodological naturalism to help us find our food, water and shelter.  Insane people and/or comatose people rely other people.

    You know, it’s sort of like how the ID peddlers rely on genuine honest scientists to do productive research while they stand on the sidelines, benefitting from that research, and throw feces at scientists.

    There’s a real fancy term for that sort of behavior that Steve Fuller embodies: “hypocrite”.

    Posted by  on  12/11  at  06:25 PM
  107. Dr. Fuller notes that Demski has responded to the critics of his “Explanatory Filter” by making some modifications.  I echo another commentor who replied that those modifications are minimal at best, and don’t address the most important critiques of the work.  But I would like to ask Dr. Fuller if he sees anything wrong with the fact that one has to go to Dembski’s blog to see those responses?  Why has he not responded in the scientific literature, to other mathematicians in the language of mathematicians? 

    Dembski is often criticized for using his specialization to confuse the issue for laypeople, without using to engage other specialists on the substance of his ideas.  You seem content to allow Dembski and Behe to keep their ID advocacy purely political, rhetorical, and blog-based, without demanding any sort of critical or rigorous scientific process from them.  That seems to be at odds with your hope that “more scientists [get] involved – especially non-religious ones – to see if the project can be moved forward.”

    Why is it incumbent on other scientists to move Intelligent Design forward?  The project has languished in intellectual doldrums for years; Dembski and Behe and Meyer and others have neglected every opportunity to do research and present the results.  Completely aside from any inherent flaw in their thinking or motives, how long are you prepared to watch them twiddle their thumbs and collect speaking fees before demanding that they move beyond rhetorical arguments and engage their critics at conferences and in journals, rather than on their own blogs?

    I cannot understand the utter credulousness that IDists seem to pick up from some bystanders.  To claim that they should be judged purely on the merits of their ideas, rather than their motives, is a fine and admirable demand.  To then disclaim any expectation that they actual test those merits is less admirable.  To support their efforts to supplant tested and verifiable science with their own untested hand-waiving in primary students’ education is incomprehensible. 

    Would you give anyone supporting any idea challenging scientific orthodoxy a pass on testing that idea, or is there some special element of Intelligent Design that excuses it from the marketplace of ideas?  Should primary science classes be a free-for-all with students expected to do their own testing of every claim ever made in every field of science?  I am honestly curious, and concerned that my unfamiliarity with your sort of critique is making me miss some obvious element of your stance.  Why would you want Intelligent Design given a privileged position in primary education?

    Posted by  on  12/11  at  07:51 PM
  108. What’s all the fuss about?  I say, let them put a chapter on Intelligent Design in high school science textbooks.  In fact, I’ve written a sample chapter:

    Intelligent Design

    So far, you have been learning about the theory of evolution. You should be aware that there is another theory of the origin of life that most likely (but not necessarily) conflicts with the theory of evolution. This is the Intelligent Design theory, according to which some intelligent being(s) created life as we know it.  According to this theory, the universe and its organisms are so complex that they must have been designed.

    Whether or not this theory is true cannot be determined by any known scientific methods.  Also, there is much debate among those who subscribe to Intelligent Design theory about who the intelligent designer(s) is/are. His/her/its/their identity/ies also cannot be ascertained by any known scientific methods.  Finally, it seems that whoever this/these intelligent designer(s) is/are/was/were, he/she/it/they has/have not revealed any scientifically demonstrable facts about his/her/it/their identity or about the world’s design.

    Since this is a science textbook, we will not comment further about Intelligent Design theory. For more information about Intelligent Design, please consult texts about world religions.

    Posted by enablingfiction  on  12/11  at  07:53 PM
  109. enablingfiction, that is a nice chapter.

    I would quibble with the following:

    “Also, there is much debate among those who subscribe to Intelligent Design theory about who the intelligent designer(s) is/are.”

    In fact, there is no “debate” on that subject and all the ID peddlers agree that the designer is their deity.  That conclusion—like the conclusion that the “design” of the human rectum allows us to infer God’s “intelligence”—is presupposed by the peddlers.

    Let me make a prediction, by the way.  Steve Fuller is going to continue reciting his garbage as if these recent threads never happened.  In Steve’s mind (so far as he honestly reveals it to us) the Discovery Institute, its employees, and their “intelligent design” nonsense are just as respectable as they were before Steve was taught otherwise.

    Such is the fate of “true believers.” The sort of self-reflection that is required to get off the rock he is stranded upon is far too painful for someone like Steve to endure.

    Steve will chuckle to himself about the “controversy” “he” and “his thought-provoking comments” created here and move on.  All he will remember is how “dogmatic” and “hysterical” the “evolutionists” were that weekend.

    What’s more important to me is how Michael Berube will respond to Steve Fuller’s next major dumping of baloney on behalf of .  Will there be that same gentlemanly backslapping and nods to the respective “intellectual honesty” of all parties?  If so, then these recent threads were, in fact, an utter waste of time for everyone except the ID peddlers, who will find solace in the wholly unsupported and ill-considered admissions by some that the only problem with “ID theory” is that it is merely “as-yet-untested.”

    Posted by  on  12/11  at  09:02 PM
  110. Prof. Fuller:

    Amazing, but you’re dancing even faster around the central questions!

    “....I am about as much an expert on ID as I am on evolution....Thus, if you’ve noticed I’ve pretty much stuck to historical, philosophical and sociological comments....”

    Well, Prof. Fuller, if your assessment of its potential does not involve contrast with current science--indeed, if it only involves historical, philosphical judgement--then your assessment rests on fairly weak grounds.  At the least, it’s incomplete.  Do you really think that contrasting it with present science is irrelevant to assessing IDism’s (potential) future worth?

    In any case, your confidence about its future worth implicitly involves a judgement that current biological science will fare poorly in the future.  Again, without tackling current science, how have you arrived at this judgement? 

    “...I can’t say whether the man has dealt with all the criticisms of his work as effectively as you would like...”

    Which of course means that you will make just that judgement: “....All this means so far is that the ID research programme has had an epistemologically mixed reception from people whose first response is not to invalidate it on religious grounds....”

    Mixed response?  That’s, umm, a charitable way of reading it, I suppose.

    “....I’ve looked at Dembski’s responses to the more conceptual objections on his website....and I see them as basically buying himself time until he comes up with an improved version of the design detector....”

    But you’re not a scientist; and, sorry, being a conoisseur does not qualify you to judge the quality of his responses.  BTW, you should work on improving your conoisseurship of science, given your confusion about DNA...I’m just sayin’

    “....No one would confuse me with a working natural scientist. (‘Laughter from the Gallery’)....”

    I can’t speak for the other members of the ‘Gallery’, but no laughter from my end--that stopped long ago.  No, I only feel pity for you, Prof. Fuller; not unlike what I would feel if I saw a child wandering about the middle of a busy highway.

    Let me end the post by thanking you, however, for refraining from talking about the ‘holism’ and the ‘East’! 

    Kumar

    Posted by  on  12/11  at  09:06 PM
  111. What’s more important to me is how Michael Berube will respond to Steve Fuller’s next major dumping of baloney.

    I think I’ve already made my position in this debate more than clear, thanks.  And the notion that my position involved “backslapping” is, how you say, garbage.

    But you’re all free to continue this discussion in any tone you deem appropriate.  I won’t close the thread unless things get really weird and Bill the Butcher shows up.

    Posted by Michael  on  12/11  at  09:37 PM
  112. Lawrence Sober,

    You’re absolutely right.  What I should’ve said is:

    <i>Intelligent Design theory has, to this date, suggested no scientific way of determining who the intelligent designer(s) is/are.  (However, most proponents of Intelligent Design theory believe in a single deity named Yahweh who is purported to have created the universe in seven [literal or metaphorical] days and to have placed the first two created human beings in a paradisal garden with the only condition upon their immortality being that they refrain from eating a knowledge-imparting fruit; when the human couple violated that law after being tempted by a talking serpent (who may or may not have been possessed by a fallen angel originally named Lucifer but renamed Satan), the intelligently-designed universe was severely damaged, eventually leading the deity to punish his incarnate son with death at the hands of first-century Roman authorities as a form of expiation for the wrongdoings of the human race.  These ideas have not been scientifically verified.)

    Posted by enablingfiction  on  12/11  at  09:50 PM
  113. Steve Fuller writes: ”As for the state of Darwinism in 1925, I think Unsympathetic Reader is oversympathetically reading the Neo-Darwinian synthesis into a period before it kicked in.

    I’m not “reading the neo-Darwinian synthesis” into 1925 but Darwinism and common descent. The “synthesis” began to come together in the 1930’s, as I mentioned in my previous comment. Although the structural underpinnings for evolutionary theory began to truly “gel” in the ‘30s, I would suggest that it was quite further along in 1925 than ID is at the end of 2005 (ID can’t even come to grips with the notion of common descent 80 years later).

    Recall also that Steve had asked whether Darwinism could be reasonably taught in a high school science classroom, not whether the textbooks used in Dayton at the time contained racist sections (not unusual for that time) or were correct in their notion of progression.

    Actually, the interesting question to ask is whether ID could be reasonably taught in 1925.

    *****

    As for “Dembski” and “ID”, I have discovered that I can substitute these with “Rupert Sheldrake” and “morphic resonance” (respectively) in just about every post above without greatly altering their overall meaning (or scientific impact). If anything, as an alternative to current theories of biological development, morphic resonance provides a more coherent and arguably testable path for research than ID. It also has the benefit of barely producing a wiggle of the needle on most people’s “religio-meter”. Among other things, Sheldrake proposed that these morphic fields influence the development and evolution of organisms, possibly explaining many of the current problems cited in current theories of evolution. Interestingly, many of the evolutionary problems cited by Rupert are the same discussed by current ID promoters. The key difference is that Sheldrake has actually put forth a potentially investigable *mechanism* with his hypothesis. He even suggested some possible experiments (Granted, there are some peculiar caveats with experimental interpretations, but at least it is something).

    Let us compare with Intelligent Design: Morphic resonance is an alternative explanation for evolutionary development, is non-religious, and includes a mechanism that physicists could potentially investigate. Oddly, I do not see many of those who meekly ask to “teach the controversy” or “provide alternatives” mention Sheldrake’s hypothesis even though it is more highly developed than ID.

    If we are really serious about covering the options we may want to create an “affirmative action” program for Dr. Sheldrake’s idea. To avoid diluting efforts, states east of the Mississippi can get ID and those west of the river can get morphic resonance. But split California: southern CA for ID and northern CA for morphic resonance.

    Posted by  on  12/12  at  12:26 AM
  114. Again, I must bid you adieu but before doing so I want to leave on a quasi-conciliatory note that perhaps illustrates what I think what I called ‘science connoisseurship’ can offer to this discussion.

    I actually agree with Unsympathetic Reader that some scientifically respectable version of Darwinism could have been presented in a high school textbook in 1925. To be sure, it would involve pulling together the sorts of disciplines, ideas, findings that Dobzhansky et al. pulled together a decade later – but those things were largely already there in 1925. What was lacking was motive to engage in the synthetic work. A key motive for Dobzhansky was making sure that Darwinists didn’t drift still further into justifying racism and eugenics because the theory’s practitioners didn’t have a steady grip on Mendelian genetics.

    ID is somewhat like Darwinism 1925, with its future open. It can either drift into theology or it can move more completely into science. There are elements of an ID research synthesis around that could be pulled together. In one of his court documents for the Dover trial, Dembski sketched several ongoing research fields of relevance to ID. As far as I can tell, none of these fields talk about ID but ID could certainly benefit from them, much as Darwinian speculations were disciplined by Mendelian genetics (which had been doing perfectly well without Darwinism). The remaining question is motive. ID needs people willing to tolerate a complication of any theological views they might have to take full advantage of these other fields, just as Darwinism needed people willing to tolerate a complication of any racialist views they might have had. It’s doable but, of course, it’s not done.

    Posted by  on  12/12  at  06:32 AM
  115. "It’s doable but, of course, it’s not done.”

    It is very frustrating to see Dr. Fuller overlook a simple question that has been raised many times here, and elsewhere.  If it has not been done, then why support injecting into primary education?  Does Dr. Fuller not agree that there should be a filter, or believe that despite its failure to perform scientific activities that ID is rigorous enough to pass a filter?  Does he believe that there is no harm in teaching untested ideas, or that high-school students are the ones who will do the testing?

    Perhaps his answer is made clear somewhere else--as I said earlier, one can hardly expect him to deal with the issue head-on through blog comments.  But I cannot justify his repeated concessions that yes, ID, whatever its future might be, hasn’t been acting like a science yet, with his (apparent) willingness to see political actors force it into public education. 

    What am I missing?

    Posted by  on  12/12  at  10:26 AM
  116. "ID is somewhat like Darwinism 1925, with its future open. It can either drift into theology or it can move more completely into science. There are elements of an ID research synthesis around that could be pulled together.”

    But what are these elements?  Hundreds and hundreds of posts, thousands of lines, and yet we still haven’t got Fuller to tell us just what it is about ID that constitutes even an embryonic research program!

    Posted by  on  12/12  at  11:47 AM
  117. Colin and RS, as I said before—he’s not really interested in ID per se.

    For me, this thread was made worthwile when Fuller told me that I could hyperventilate in French.  Maybe I can wander about the wilds of Quebec safely, able to communicate with its mysterious inhabitants, if only I make sure to breathe really rapidly whenever I see one approach.

    Posted by  on  12/12  at  12:24 PM
  118. Steve, thank you for taking the time to reply.

    Regarding Dobzhansky and others: Another motive for the synthesis was because it was intellectually stimulating and better tools were finally available. Political and socialogical motives aren’t everything in science. Sometimes we do things because we think: “That’s totally cool!” Never underestimate the power of shiny, new toys to influence scientific research. Few really comprehend what ultracentrifuges did for biochemical research 40-50 years ago.

    Today we have departments of “integrative biology” springing up because much of the grunt work has been completed to establish the foundation for such multidisciplinary efforts. No doubt some researchers have a metaphysical axe to grind (I can’t think of any but who can be sure), but most do it because it’s “totally cool!” and they think that a lot can be done with the field.

    It takes all types.

    Posted by  on  12/12  at  01:01 PM
  119. For years I have asked a simple question in a variety of forums and have not gotten an answer.  I thought I might get an answer from the Dover trial or from Steve Fuller.  No such luck.
    The question: “What does an ID scientist DO all day?”
    Maybe it should be rephrased: “What CAN an ID scientist do all day?”
    I’ll take responses to either.

    Posted by  on  12/12  at  02:01 PM
  120. So far Fuller is behaving exactly as I predicted.  I wonder if Mr. Fuller realizes what he has accomplished here?  While running from the hounds he made the mistake of climbing a lonely tree.

    Professor Fuller, will you acknowledge any of your willful misrepresentations of the truth in these recent threads?

    For example, you wrote: “… this is quite crucial groundwork for ID, and Dembski has made some modifications in light of criticism. Now, all of this is happening without any mention of God.”

    This statement of yours has been demonstrated to be completely bogus (not the only one, by the way).

    Moreover, no reasonable human being could believe that you (a self-identifying “professional” in historical matters and someone who has claims to have researched the contemporary status of “ID") were not aware of the truth.

    So do we get a sincere apology, Dr. Fuller, for your intentional distortion of the plain facts about Bill Dembski and his “theories”? 

    Perhaps you were engaging in a bit of “street theatre” like Dembski claims to engage in from time to time (usually after his bizarre statements are shoved under his nose, much as your own incomprehensible mutterings were deconstructed here)?

    Please let me know if you ackowledge your misrepresentations, Professor Fuller, and please do apologize for your behavior.

    In the absence of any acknowledgement or apology, I can only conclude that you are waiting for someone with more authority than a mere blog commenter to address your troubling behavior in a more widely-viewed forum.

    All your statements here are archived, Dr. Fuller.  You will be seeing them again and again and again, and you will be forced to address them or you will be forced to pretend that you never made them.  Who knows when?  When you least expect it, hopefully.

    Big men can admit their mistakes and apologize, Dr. Fuller.  Little whining bottom-feeding ideologues can’t.

    Time to choose! smile

    Posted by  on  12/12  at  02:18 PM
  121. Steve Fuller (in #88):
    Scientists however have never been averse to political activism on their behalf. The relevant example here is the US National Academy of Science endorsing the pseudo-philosophy of ‘methodological naturalism’ as the scientific attitude. Naturalism is normally a metaphysical position that has been historically hostile to monotheism…

    In the ‘Freeper’ discussion I referenced above (#44), the ID supporters finally got to the point of articulating their main gripe about Darwinian evolution: its basis is “metaphysical materialism,” a related but somewhat more ambitious philosophic position than what Fuller refers to as methodological naturalism.  I was curious to see whether Fuller would go there too.  Even taking Fuller’s transposition of methodological naturalism into metaphysical naturalism with a grain of salt, there’s a larger problem with the charge of hostility to monotheism.  Fuller’s phrasing implies that the hostility has been one-way and thus unwarranted, but the hostility of the Church to scientists undermining its view of the world is a commonplace in the intellectual history of the West, despite the professed faith of so many scientists. 

    This leads directly to what I must say is a distorted inference: that a science based on methodological naturalism must, in some fundamental way, be hostile to monotheism or more broadly to any type of religion.  The historical tension between science and religion in the West has primarily been over the issue of dogmatism, not theism per se.

    Posted by  on  12/12  at  09:02 PM
  122. Paul

    “In the ‘Freeper’ discussion I referenced above (#44), the ID supporters finally got to the point of articulating their main gripe about Darwinian evolution: its basis is “metaphysical materialism,” a related but somewhat more ambitious philosophic position than what Fuller refers to as methodological naturalism.”

    Of course, Darwinian evolution is based in “metaphysical materialism” precisely to the same extent that the daily weather forecast is based in “metaphysical materialism”.

    The ‘Freepers’, like Fuller (presumably, because why else would he behave as he does unless it’s simply to make a buck), practice their anti-science bigotry in large part simply because their preachers advise them to do so and tell all sorts of scary stories about what will happen if they don’t pay attention.  The preachers tell the rubes to do so because it gives the rubes an excuse to point fingers and judge the heathens and infidels, which is one of the favorite pasttimes of members of organized religions (as any “historian” will tell you).

    If you’ve got the stomach, just read the HIV-denying Phil “I Have No Idea How Old the Earth Is” Johnson’s garbage on the subject of the “scourge” of “metaphysical materialism.”

    Osama bin Johnson and the Johnsonite Christian cult members include most of the employees of the Discovery Institute, with the possible exception of Jonathan Wells, who appears to be your typical Moonie headcase.

    Posted by  on  12/12  at  09:19 PM
  123. Steve Fuller: as “clever as a serpant”?

    Probably.  Snakes are stupid as hell.

    http://www2.ncseweb.org/wp/?p=90

    Enjoy the above link, Fuller.  Soon you will become a permanent part of the creationist legal landscape—the dry unfriendly part where coyotes lick the remains of creationist roadkill.

    Fyi, if you are ready to recant any of your testimony at the trial, Judge Jones would appreciate hearing from you as soon as possible.

    Posted by  on  12/12  at  10:15 PM
  124. What?  Still no apology from Perfesser Fuller?  No admission of the errors?  No retraction of the lies and misrepresentations?

    Gosh, what a surprise.

    In other news, evidently there is some amazing evidence for “Intelligent Design” forthcoming ...

    http://www.unconfirmedsources.com/?itemid=1367

    Posted by  on  12/13  at  02:10 PM
  125. Thanks for the url, Lawrence.  Lol, as the kids say.  And yeah, I think waiting for an apology on this one is going to be like waiting for Godot.  But, as you pointed out above, everything here is archived, for the benefit anyone who wants to read through it--

    Posted by  on  12/13  at  03:17 PM
  126. Since this thread seems to have been ended on some demand for an apology on my part. Well, here is one I made, and you can have a look at the responses to it.

    http://www.pandasthumb.org/archives/2005/12/fullers_inventi.html#comment-62487

    I do try to apologize when I’ve been in obvious error. But if you people are really interested in the truth, you’ve got to do better than act like vigilantes—and I mean here with regard to your treatment of Dembski, not me. (I’m a veteran of the Science Wars, after all.) How do you expect core ID people to ‘come clean’ under the circumstances?

    Posted by  on  12/13  at  03:57 PM
  127. Well, I have to take back the crack about Godot with regard to Dembski’s fraud detectors, then.  My apologies.

    Posted by  on  12/13  at  09:06 PM
  128. Well, Paul Nelson tends to “come clean” with respect to where ID really stands today and consequently receives more respect. Behe waffles about the application and evaluation of irreducible complexity and gets tweaked. Dembski has a track record of “less than pure” tactics, empty promises, revisionist interpretations and consequently gets hammered. In this regard, Dembski appears to be his own worst enemy. Yes, it is hard “fighting City Hall”, but some some people are better equipped, temperament-wise than others.

    Posted by  on  12/14  at  12:34 AM
  129. "Interested in the truth”! The effrontery! The Creationism/Intelligent Design camp clearly isn’t remotely interested in objective reality. It’s all about Theological Correctness, which seldom if ever has anything to do with mere objective reality.

    Posted by  on  12/14  at  11:55 AM
  130. Steve Fuller

    “I do try to apologize when I’ve been in obvious error. “

    Then apologize for your obvious errors, Steve.  I’ve pointed some of them out to in very plain terms.

    I’m trying to understand what you intend to accomplish by posting the link to the Panda’s Thumb.  Are you making some sort of excuse for your inability to apologize here for the blatantly false statements you’ve made here?

    C’mon Steve.  Grow up.

    “How do you expect core ID people to ‘come clean’ under the circumstances?”

    Honestly, I don’t expect them to come clean because the lives of folks like Dembski and Behe are so deep entwined with the propaganda they recite that they probably need professional help at this point.

    As I’ve pointed out and Michael has noted, Steve, your behavior here is DOCUMENTED.  I guarantee you that I and others will be referring to the statements you made here down the road, just as the plaintiffs in Dover referred to your deposition statements when they made you look like a dissembling backtracking dishonest stooge on the stand.

    Your naivety and/or your willful ignorance as to how the world works, Steve, continues to amaze me.  I don’t call myself a professional historian or an expert on social sciences but I do understand that when I stand up (or sit down) in a very public place with a microphone I don’t want to be making statement after statement about subjects that I can’t back up or that I obviously know nothing about.

    And that’s what you do, Perfesser, apparently out of habit/psychosis or out of some desire to secure a dubious quantity of notoriety or fame.

    The Christians have some stories in their holy book which appear to speak to the fact that people can change their ways and be forgiven.

    I suggest you refkect on that possibility, Dr. Fuller, before you discover that the remnants of your “professional” “reputation” are beyond repair.

    Posted by  on  12/14  at  05:49 PM
  131. It seems ID lost its field day in Dover, Pennsylvania, at least - quoting from BoingBoing:
    (http://www.boingboing.net/2005/12/20/federal_judge_rules_.html)

    “ A federal judge in Pennsylvania ruled today that the Dover Area school board violated the Constitution when it required that Intelligent Design be taught as part of the biology curriculum.

    But more than that, the judge apparently found that the school board members who supported the policy lied about their true motives: “We find that the secular purposes claimed by the Board amount to a pretext for the Board’s real purpose, which was to promote religion in the public school classroom,” he wrote in his 139-page opinion.

    Pending a thorough review of those 139 pages, it is unclear whether there was an mention of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. “

    Well, this is good news, at least. The bad news is that a “theory” that’s being promoted for obvious ideological reasons and has no actual scientific merit ("yet", as Fuller would posit, failing to explain why it would ever gain any) even has to GO to court.
    oh, well. At least the biological community is awake, and at least others are, too.

    Posted by Carsten Agger  on  12/20  at  04:00 PM
  132. And, as I predicted, Perfesser Fuller is immortalized in American legal history as one of the best defense witnesses for the plaintiffs, thanks to his silly incoherent ramblings about science and his admissions that ID is creationist crap.

    http://www.pandasthumb.org/archives/2005/12/and_a_shout_out.html#pings

    So how does it feel Perfesser Fuller?  Maybe in 200 years you won’t be perceived as someone who is full of shit.  But you’re full of shit now.

    Too bad about that, Perfesser.

    Oh yeah—and I’m still waiting for an apology from you for your willful mistatements, noted above.

    Anytime.

    Posted by  on  12/20  at  04:40 PM
  133. http://degas.fdisk.net/cgi-bin/mt/mt-tb.cgi/1788

    Posted by  on  12/20  at  04:42 PM
  134. ID deserves space less for what it’s done recently than as a representative of the main counter-tradition in the history of science to the one represented nowadays by Neo-Darwinism.  This counter-tradition’s standard bearer is not Paley, of watch-on-the-beach fame, but Isaac Newton who believed he had gotten inside of God’s mind.

    If ID deserves space in high school science classes for this reason, then why not teach Newton’s biblical criticism in those classes directly?  Rather than going on at such length about Fuller’s nonsense, why not just point out the obvious—that he’s an intellectually (at least) dishonest fool?

    One cannot underestimate the heuristic value of this belief in the history of science, not only in physics but also in computer science and of course genetics (sometimes with disastrous consequences).

    Perhaps one indeed cannot underestimate its value, but one can certainly over estimate it, as the definitely foolish Fuller does here.

    Posted by  on  12/27  at  07:43 PM
  135. So far, you have been learning about the theory of evolution. You should be aware that there is another theory of the origin of life that most likely (but not necessarily) conflicts with the theory of evolution.

    The theory of evolution is not a theory of the origin of life.  It would help if people could get at least the basics right.

    Posted by  on  12/27  at  08:00 PM
  136. I am sanguine that with enough time and resources, ID can become a full-fledged research programme

    And how does one obtain such optimism before the research has been done?

    but it may [need] some ‘affirmative action’

    This would only be a fair analogy if blacks weren’t human.

    Posted by  on  12/27  at  08:18 PM
  137. Let me be clear about this.  Fuller is not a charlatan

    Certainly he is; he’s passing himself off as a) competent to speak on the subjects he addresses and b) honest.

    or a con artist or a flim-flim man

    He extraordinary dishonesty, intellectual and otherwise, amounts to flim-flam.

    Remember, everyone, this is a guy who takes Popper’s side against Kuhn, on the ground that Popper more accurately captures the actual practice of science.  He believes in falsification

    He may “believe in” it, but he doesn’t understand it—not when he writes “Generally speaking, falsifiability pertains to empirical hypotheses, and here it seems to me that ID does not have enough of a research programme off the ground to falsify its own hypotheses”.  And anyone who writes that and at the same time advocates teaching ID in high school science classes as a means of “affirmative action” is trying to pull a fast one.

    How he gets from there—or from Nanda’s book—to Dover is something I still do not, and probably will never, understand.

    A combination of stupidity, intellectual dishonesty, and ideological commitments.

    Posted by  on  12/27  at  08:49 PM
  138. It lies in the forms of research people undertake when they think the universe has been designed and they’ve got a shot at figuring out the designer’s plan.

    Like Darwin, perhaps.

    Now, the textbooks based on ID principles may not themselves do the greatest job at this because they stress the prospect of a designer over the nature of his/her/its design. But such textbooks could be easily written, especially if more of the history of science was incorporated into science teaching.

    Uh, no, they couldn’t.  Fuller either hasn’t a clue as to what “ID principles” are, or is intentionally equivocating—flim-flam.

    Posted by  on  12/27  at  09:02 PM
  139. I don’t see the point of impugning his intelligence

    The point is to tell the truth.

    Not that these would be advanced by anything he’s said here

    And that’s not it.  I suspect you (in particular) mistake the writing of large amounts of grammatically correct English for intelligence.

    Posted by  on  12/27  at  09:12 PM
  140. no one has yet explained why there is Something rather than Nothing

    If there were nothing, then certainly no one would have, or could have, explained that.  But the anthropic principle is a sufficient logical explanation for why there is something rather than nothing—the question could not have been formed, let alone had a meaning, if there were nothing.  As for why there’s this particular something, modal realism—that all possible worlds exist—offers a sufficient explanation for that.  Whether one finds it satisfactory is a personal issue.

    It was on my To Do list when I was a teenager, but I got sidetracked, and now I’m just another curious agnostic.

    It’s fine to be “agnostic” in the sense of simply being ignorant, but it’s better then to just say one is ignorant; agnosticism in Huxley’s sense of unknowability is a very strong claim.

    Posted by  on  12/27  at  09:55 PM
  141. by looking for “design” in nature we might find ourselves getting quite a few useful “design” tips from nature. So it is important, in that sense, not to quash a field of would-be research that could, somehow, potentially lead to actual discoveries.

    Getting design tips from nature is alive and well; “ID” has nothing to do with that.

    The first thing that ID proponents really ought to do is define their terms. Does “design” imply intention?

    Dembski has quasi-mathematically defined the term, and has explicitly stated that design does not directly imply an intentional agent.  Rather, there’s a supposedly “inductive” inference: we see many things designed by intelligent agents (humans), therefore everything designed (per his definition) is the result of an intelligent agent (even the products of evolution, which fit his definition of design).

    See any fallacies there?

    Posted by  on  12/27  at  10:08 PM
  142. Evolutionary theory managed to escape from its initial moorings in laissez faire economics and Malthusian population thinking, once enough people from different backgrounds and agendas became recognised contributors to it.

    Uh, no, evolutionary theory got to where it is because the evidence supports it.

    The fact that ID science stays entirely with secular discourse

    There’s no such thing as “ID science”, and ID proponents most certainly do not stay entirely with secular discourse.  The most that can be said is that some proponents of ID have issued forth with pseudo-scientific sophistry that can be mistaken by the woefully ignorant or fastastically willing as “science”.

    Posted by  on  12/27  at  10:19 PM
  143. As Heidegger kind of said, our languages so thoroughly presume Being

    It’s odd that you would accept this but then require additional explanation; that a claim is tautological is sufficient explanation of it.

    that it’s damn near impossible to get a handle on what Being “is.”

    It’s really not that difficult, once one gets past the erroneous notion that this possible world has some special status (being “real") over all other possible worlds, above and beyond our being in it.

    Posted by  on  12/27  at  10:32 PM
  144. “the fact that contemporary ID is not well-supported by research matters much less to me than its potential for inspiring new directions in the scientific imagination.”

    So go ahead and be inspired; no one is stopping Fuller or anyone else.  His argument for “affirmative action” for ID is utterly disingenuous.  Einstein and Hawking were inspired by the search for “design”, and they didn’t need affirmative action.  Many scientists, including many biologists, are so inspired.  It’s the IDiots, who insist on proclaiming the mere fact of design, rather than determining the design itself, and who in fact insist that the design itself is beyond science, who lack “scientific imagination”.

    “If [we] judged scientific theories by what we think of what motivates them, then we wouldn’t have much science left. This is why it’s important to distinguish the contexts of discovery and justification: ID can be as religiously motivated as you like.”

    Folks, he’s entirely right about this. 

    Uh, no, he isn’t, because ID isn’t a scientific theory, and the fact that it is being presented as if it were has everything to do with religious motivation.  So much for sociology informing the discussion.

    I’ve never understood why advocates of Design focus so exclusively and obsessively on living organisms.

    Are you really that clueless?  It’s because they think that evolution contradicts the bible, and its distinctions between man and beast.

    Posted by  on  12/27  at  10:50 PM
  145. Especially when you reflect on the fact that the elemental forces of the universe have to be just so in order for matter to exist at all?

    Uh, no, they have to be just so in order for the matter to organize itself into stars and such.  But fermions are pretty basic.

    Posted by  on  12/27  at  10:55 PM
  146. There’s no such thing as “ID science”, and ID proponents most certainly do not stay entirely with secular discourse. is pneumonia contagious jf pneumonia symptoms
    The most that can be said is that some proponents of ID have issued forth with pseudo-scientific sophistry that can be mistaken by the woefully ignorant or fastastically willing as “science”.

    Posted by  on  02/07  at  10:46 PM
  147. I’ve never understood why advocates of Design focus so exclusively and obsessively on living organisms.

    Such lack of comprehension is a direct consequence of ignoring the motivations of those advocates. More fundamentally, those who are motivated by religious apologetics rather than a desire to comprehend the universe will only accidentally discover anything, and thus it is foolhardy to ignore their motivations when trying to judge whether they are performing science. Note that this does not apply to Newton, who was not, like the IDists, doing whatever he thought necessary in order to win a cultural struggle, but was tying to understand what he thought was—and took for granted was—God’s creation.

    Posted by  on  02/10  at  01:47 AM
  148. Oh, and Steve Fuller: About that ID “research programme” ... there clearly is none now, and there never was one. That was always obvious to anyone who knew any science ... which is something more than a social activity. Someone who is “about as much an expert on ID as [...] on evolution....Thus [...] pretty much stuck to historical, philosophical and sociological comments....” is incompetent to judge what constitutes a potentially successful research programme ... although I think even as little knowledge of biology as you possess was enough to avoid your errors in this regard. And about that thing about teaching it in school ... well, your extraordinary bad faith on that score was well demonstrated here.

    It seems from your Wikipedia article that you continue to enjoy personal success despite your appallingly bad behavior and lack of integrity. At least one can find some satisfaction in how sections of the article, e.g., http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steve_Fuller_(sociologist)#Books , document your ignorance and lack of scruples.

    Posted by  on  02/10  at  02:41 AM
  149. ID is somewhat like Darwinism 1925, with its future open. It can either drift into theology or it can move more completely into science.

    ID is of course quite unlike Darwinism, and cannot “move ... into science”, because it is fundamentally incorrect. And Darwin up with something that is fundamentally correct, whereas the IDists came up with the opposite, because Darwin examined evidence and followed wherever it led, whereas the IDists started with a conclusion and tried to come up with a sciency-sounding justification for it. But Fuller isn’t interested in facts and reality or science’s relationship to those, or in the motivations of the IDists vs. people like Darwin (or Newton), which results in him being wrong about almost everything.

    Posted by  on  02/10  at  05:47 AM

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