Wednesday, April 27, 2005

My censored reply to an Intellectual Design blogger

William Dembski can't be a biologist, or else he is an utterly deceitful one. It is ridiculous to suggest opposition to ID is some kind of bitter grudge match between devotees of a majority opinion and a scientific minority view. I can't believe you will find a single PhD in this country in systematics--the branch of biology that looks at the detailed physical characteristics of species, names and compares them--who does not believe that all species have descended from a common ancestor. Systematics is a science of natural history that predates Darwin and Lamarck. The idea of common descent won all of these people over, and it's not because they hadn't read Genesis or said "oh well, I can't think of anything better." Common descent is a real "ah-ha" idea for which you see support around every corner. If there weren't puzzles to solve there'd be no science going on in this field, which indeed is why there are no systematists doing anything with the idea of ID and also why scientists in general talk about the puzzlingness of things, like the Cambrian Explosion (it's also why people like detective stories). ID is in origin a Trojan horse, which creationists built to wheel Genesis into proximity with science, so they could claim it's appropriate for biology class. The intellectual thought leaders behind ID are outright deceiving their allies when they portray this as science, and they're slandering scientists when they portray this overwhelmingly reputable bunch of people as either critically or ethically handicapped by their firm conviction in species' common descent. It's the thought leaders of the creationist movement who believe that ends justify means in this debate. It's easy to understand and sympathize with their desired end: They are devout Christians, and they want to make a teaching of the Bible part of the required curriculum of the public schools. They view souls as being at stake, and so they don't mind tarnishing and taking time away from a few literally conflicting views of science (though these happen to be central, hard-won triumphs of human inquiry arrived at by other devout Christians in a quest for the truth). But their methods are corrupt and at bottom their goal defies the U.S. constitution. I recommend people look at this ID discussion as the political battle that it is. I'm sure a lot of sincere people have accepted the testimony of intellectuals who pretend to speak with authority in characterizing ID as science, but go back to these supposed authorities and examine their sincerity. If you have biological research scientists in your neighborhood, you might also see what impression you get from them.

Censored (twice) from William Dembski's ID blog


Anonymous said...

ID does not rule out common descent. One of its leading proponents, biochemist Michael Behe, is quite explicit in his belief in common descent.

Dembski deleted you because he doesn't want criticism based upon misinformed beliefs about ID cluttering up his blog.

Murky Thoughts said...

You make a good point about my mistaken assumption that all IDist rule out common descent. If I were to post again I'd have to argue differently. Still my mistake didn't make everything I said irrelevant, and his summary censorship without explanation or forewarning is extremely heavy handed, shows disrespect for those who disagree with him and suggests he's not nearly so interested in open discourse as he pretends. His site is a little Potemkin village for discourse.

Murky Thoughts said...

As someone knowledgable about biology, the mistake that showed my ignorance about ID actually supported my main point (that biologists have zero professional interest in ID). That may be why Dembski chose to censor rather than reply. He doesn't want it known how little ID has impressed scientists.

Danny said...

Dembski is a philosopher-mathematician, and I don't know how much he believes in common descent, if at all. He has no real need for open discussion. He's an ID ideologue and chief propagandist. The Panda's Thumb is a community blog of ID watchers, and they have written extensively on Dembski and his pet theories.

Heavy handedness is not new to ID. Try going to the ARN Forums and argue against ID. You'll see where people like Dembski get their censor-happy tactics.