Thursday, April 07, 2011

Responding to creationists in newspaper forums

For a few years now, I have spent part of every day searching for, and replying to creationists in US newspaper editorials, letters to the editor, and newspaper discussion groups. There are others who do the same, including creationists. I recently was replying to a ID creationists named Lee Bowman on a Tennessee news site Metro Pulse;

I am posting the following to Stones and Bones because I had to spend some time searching the Dover trial transcripts for material, and will probably need them again. The two topics are Mike Behe's claim that even though ID "design detection" doesn't work in archaeology, as he had claimed, it would still work in "science fiction." The second part is from his cross-examination where he admits that "astrology is science" under the logical rules he would use to make ID a science.

Lee Bowman claims that, “academic freedom is my passion.” I don’t know whether to laugh, or snarl. Come to think on it, snarl is more appropriate. Mr. Bowman is an advocate for teaching creationism in schools. He is also a sloppy thinker, and reader. (Alternately, he misrepresents other posts on purpose). For example, he dismissed the clear assertions of religious intent from all the major ID creationism leaders, say that they were out dated. For example, he claimed falsely that Phillip Johnson, and Paul Nelson admitted that there is no ID theory in 1996. This was (as I cited) in 2006 by Johnson, and 2004 by Nelson. Were these statements even older, no ID creationists have ever retracted their clear assertions of religious doctrinaire goals, and motivations for ID creationism.

Bowman then lies about Behe’s testimony in the Dover trial, asserting falsely that Behe was attempting humor. Here is the transcript;

Dover, Behe Cross Examination, Afternoon Day 12;

(Rothschild) Q. So if the strength of an inference depends on the similarities, this is a pretty weak inference, isn't it, Dr. Behe?

(Behe) A. No, I disagree completely. Again if something showed strong marks of design, and even if a human designer could not have made it, then we nonetheless would think that something else had made it. Lots of science fiction movies are based on scenarios like that, and again the, I think the similarities between what we find in designed objects in our everyday world and the complex molecular machinery of the cell have actually a lot more in common than do explosions we see on earth such as cannon balls and so forth and the explosion of an entire universe, and that induction seems to have been fairly successful in trying to explain some features of the world. So I think it's not at all uncalled for to make a similar induction in this case.

Q. Science fiction movies are not science, are they, Professor Behe?

A. That's correct, they are not. But they certainly try to base themselves on what their audience would consider plausible within the genre, so they can offer useful illustrations at some points, for some points.

Obviously, Behe is floundering in his self contradictions, and searching for an “out.”

And, regarding astrology, which Behe defended as a “science,” here is a relevant portion of that testimony.

Dover, Behe Cross Examination, Afternoon Day 11;
Q (Rothschild) And using your definition, intelligent design is a
16 scientific theory, correct?
17 A (Behe) Yes.
18 Q Under that same definition astrology is a
19 scientific theory under your definition, correct?
20 A Under my definition, a scientific theory is a
21 proposed explanation which focuses or points to physical,
22 observable data and logical inferences. There are many
23 things throughout the history of science which we now think
24 to be incorrect which nonetheless would fit that -- which
25 would fit that definition. Yes, astrology is in fact one,
1 and so is the ether theory of the propagation of light, and
2 many other -- many other theories as well.

And a moment later,

Q But you are clear, under your definition, the
7 definition that sweeps in intelligent design, astrology is
8 also a scientific theory, correct?
9 A Yes, that’s correct. And let me explain under my
10 definition of the word "theory," it is -- a sense of the
11 word "theory" does not include the theory being true, it
12 means a proposition based on physical evidence to explain
13 some facts by logical inferences. There have been many
14 theories throughout the history of science which looked good
15 at the time which further progress has shown to be
16 incorrect. Nonetheless, we can t go back and say that
17 because they were incorrect they were not theories.


RBH said...

Behe remarked that

...a lot more in common than do explosions we see on earth such as cannon balls and so forth and the explosion of an entire universe, and that induction seems to have been fairly successful in trying to explain some features of the world.

That's on a Kent Hovind level of understanding of the Big Bang, which is nothing like a cannon ball (or exploding shell), and to my knowledge no cosmologist has ever based anything about the origin of the known universe on that analogy. Behe is even worse than I thought.

Gary S. Hurd said...

Yeah. Behe got more stupid the more I read of him.