A Note to Glenn Shrom

Glenn Shrom is hawking a book of his. He notes with apparent approval a statement by Art Chadwick and Robert DeHaan that would give credence to the claim that “intelligent design” can be or is a part of science. Then he notes with apparent disapproval that Creationism’s Trojan Horse by Barbara Forrest and Paul R. Gross does not approach ID in that credulous fashion. Well, OK, everyone has an opinion. But Shrom went a bit over the line:

Then in 2004, Barbara Forrest and Paul R. Gross completely ignored that first approach in their book Creationism’s Trojan Horse: The Wedge of Intelligent Design**. Instead they choose to focus, as most of America does, on the religious and philosophical approaches to ID. Their book does not delve into what ID is as a science, but addresses how ID has been used for political and ideological purposes.

It’s one thing to note that CTH doesn’t do much in the way of trying to evaluate ID claims on whatever dubious merits they may once have had. It’s another to pretend that there isn’t anything else out there relevant to the point that Shrom brings up.

So, I wrote Shrom an email to point this out. I reproduce the text of it here.

Concerning the advertisement on http://www.authorstobelievein.com/getting.past.the.culture.wars.htm you wrote:

[Quote]

In Getting Past the Culture Wars, I appeal to both evolutionists and Creationists to drop their preconceived, visceral baggage and take a fresh look, with reason and fair-mindedness, at the first approach. Such an enlightened vision is desirable for good education, good religion, good science, and good judicial rulings.

[End Quote]

Been there, done that. “Why Intelligent Design Fails”, now available in paperback from Rutgers University Press, fills the bill. Of course, it finds that ID’s claims to science are simply overblown and pretentious. We took up the ID claims as they were and put in the time and effort to evaluate them against the relevant scientific knowledge. Uniformly, they failed to make the grade.

Intelligent design advocates has been steadily ignoring “Why Intelligent Design Fails” since its publication. The question is why you would ignore it in your advertisement, since it rather precisely meets the criterion that you state, and instead you choose to focus upon a book that never promised to deliver that sort of examination of the arguments. At best, this oversight indicates an essential ignorance of the relevant literature. At worst, it indicates a deliberate misdirection intended to mislead the reader.

Web page for Why Intelligent Design Fails

Wesley

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Wesley R. Elsberry

Falconer. Interdisciplinary researcher: biology and computer science. Photographer. Husband. Christian. Activist.

22 thoughts on “A Note to Glenn Shrom

  • 2006/08/15 at 3:56 am
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    Believe it or not, but I found your austringer website before running across any e-mail from you. Anyway, CTH has a very credulous approach regarding the philosophical and religious approaches to ID, and they are right. One of the reasons I wrote my book is to get ID movement people to stop making outrageous claims and to drop all the nonsense about having proof of a designer. This is one approach that Chadwick and DeHaan say is valid, but there is very little talk of the natural science ideas of ID. By the way, not every ID idea is a claim, some things are hypotheses to be considered, and some are interpretations of data and conclusions, etc. Even if you prove certain “claims” to be wrong, there is plenty of room to be open-minded in a discussion of future directions to pursue.

    I haven’t read your book (have you read mine?), but I don’t doubt that you prove ID science claims to be overblown and pretentious. I don’t pretend that there are no books which address outrageous claims and show them to be outrageous. I introduce new claims (not new to science, but fresh to the debate) which are very down to earth and already pretty standard in science, and show why I think they should be considered Intelligent Design, instead of all the unscientific fluff that I’m sure your book addresses. For instance, check out the Scientific American article “15 Answers to Creationist Nonsense” by John Rennie. The last paragraph answering number 15 talks about a middle road which is neither random mutations nor “designing intelligences”, but rather seems to be a simple, natural process which results in great complexity. This is the approach I take in my book – Intelligent Design as a natural law, neither random nor supernatural, and a great number of scientists are already in agreement – they just don’t like to call it Intelligent Design because of the way ID is generally understood in our society.

    Why not give my book a read? It sounds like you are already on my side as far as silencing outrageous claims and dealing with straightforward scientific methods instead.

    The actual quote by Chadwick and DeHaan states, “First, one may posit that there is a purposive or functional logic embedded in living organisms that is as real and objectives as the laws of physics …”, and it is this approach which considers design purely from the natural order. If your book proves that living organisms do not follow any objective natural laws, I am very interested in reading it and accepting your proof. It would put an end to so many scientific pursuits which are trying to identify those very same natural laws.

  • 2006/08/15 at 6:10 am
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    Believe it or not, but I found your austringer website before running across any e-mail from you.

    Ego-surfing is a common activity and paying close attention to email is tougher these days with tons of spam around. That’s perfectly believable.

    Anyway, CTH has a very credulous approach regarding the philosophical and religious approaches to ID, and they are right.

    I suggest that you consult a dictionary for a definition of “credulous”.

    By the way, not every ID idea is a claim, some things are hypotheses to be considered, and some are interpretations of data and conclusions, etc.

    For the one, there would be the claim that an actual hypothesis existed. So far, that hasn’t panned out, either.

    Even if you prove certain “claims” to be wrong, there is plenty of room to be open-minded in a discussion of future directions to pursue.

    It’s like talking about “new directions” for Enron to pursue. “Intelligent design” as a concept began as a sham, and has only manifested itself through inanity. Certainly, that leaves a lot of scope for someone who actually wanted to pursue science to do something different, but why would they want to use the ID label or any of the bogus arguments that come from way back in religious antievolution?

    I haven’t read your book (have you read mine?),

    According to Amazon.com, your book was released on July 19, 2006. Why Intelligent Design Fails, on the other hand, was released in July, 2004. You had two years to get familiar with my book. I’ve had less than a month to get cozy with yours. And here is the problem: your advertising copy is a cheap shot at CTH and ignores the far more relevant WIDF. It wasn’t intellectually honest of you to do that.

    I introduce new claims (not new to science, but fresh to the debate) which are very down to earth and already pretty standard in science, and show why I think they should be considered Intelligent Design, instead of all the unscientific fluff that I’m sure your book addresses.

    In other words, identify things that have had nothing to do with the sham of ID and treat them as having been part of it. That doesn’t sound intellectually honest, either. There’s already plenty of that within ID, and WIDF does address that tactic, especially in Gary Hurd’s chapter about the inappropriate claim that archaeology follows techniques of ID.

    Perhaps you should read WIDF before going on about how your book addresses different things.

    This is the approach I take in my book – Intelligent Design as a natural law, neither random nor supernatural, and a great number of scientists are already in agreement – they just don’t like to call it Intelligent Design because of the way ID is generally understood in our society.

    Probably because ID originated as a means of getting the same old religiously motivated antievolution arguments into public school classrooms despite the 1987 SCOTUS ruling in Edwards v. Aguillard. There seems to be some good reason not to associate actual intellectual work with scofflaw tactics.

    Why not give my book a read?

    Send me a review copy.

    The actual quote by Chadwick and DeHaan states, “First, one may posit that there is a purposive or functional logic embedded in living organisms that is as real and objectives as the laws of physics …”, and it is this approach which considers design purely from the natural order. If your book proves that living organisms do not follow any objective natural laws, I am very interested in reading it and accepting your proof. It would put an end to so many scientific pursuits which are trying to identify those very same natural laws.

    Don’t be an ass, Glenn. That’s pretty moronic so far as logic goes. If that is supposed to make for a dramatic and unanswerable closing, you may as well give it up.

  • 2006/08/15 at 4:23 pm
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    You’re quite right that credulous and credible are two different things. My bad. (I didn’t need the dictionary refresher – simply drawing it to my attention was sufficient).

    I wonder what e-mail address you used for me. Maybe someone else got my mail.

    Thank you for posting my reply. I noticed I typed “objectives” where I meant “objective”, and I’d change the last sentence to “… trying to identify exactly what those natural laws are.”

    I don’t view ID as anti-evolution or religious, although I agree with you that the origins of it showing up on our cultural radar screens were precisely those two things. It is intellectually honest to sit down and see what is helpful about evolution and what is helpful about ID and develop the good from both sides. It is not gentlemanly to call someone an ass and moronic. You seem interested in doing all you can to ensure that the wars continue. I am trying to negotiate a peace treaty. If that means abandoning a large number of original ID claims in favor of some basic scientific thinking, then so much the better. Is your goal to win an argument, or is your goal to do good science?

    The way I see it, evolution is the big picture in science, and ID is just one small element. Here as an actual hypothesis for you: the genetic change which makes some mosquitos more resistant to persticides is actually triggered by exposure to those pesticides, so that the mutation is a form of defense in order to survive. Now there is no harm in testing that hypothesis further. We’ve already found the same change to happen three times in similar circumstances, and in a short period of time. One might think that these changes could happen randomly at any time during a million year period, but the evidence shows that the three separate evolutions (all of the same type) occurred within about a decade of each other, and coincided with the introduction of new pesticides. It has been called an “evolutionary arms race” between man and mosquito. It could be that there is no cause-effect connection at all between the environment and the mutation, but there is something to be learned from making the hypothesis and proving it right, or from making the hypothesis and proving it wrong. Either way, the cause of science is advanced.

  • 2006/08/15 at 4:41 pm
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    p.s. – Contact me by e-mail if you want to exchange review copies; you send me your book and I’ll send you mine. I might even put in a good word for your book in the next edition of my review copy; you might end up putting in a good word for mine. Otherwise, I’ll let it up to you to decide if you want to purchase your own copy of Getting Past the Culture Wars or forego it.

    You’re right that I was ignorant of WIDF; I still haven’t read it, but then again I give you the benefit of the doubt that it is a good work. I am not taking a cheap shot at CTH; I’m merely trying to put distance between those who see ID as an alternative package for Creationism and those who take their science seriously. CTH is right to expose the politics behind the scenes of so much of the ID movement, but it is shortsighted to only consider the second approach that Chadwick and De Haan spell out, and not the first.

  • 2006/08/15 at 6:01 pm
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    Is your goal to win an argument, or is your goal to do good science?

    False dichotomy. I’m out for doing both.

    I’m also out to tell everyone I can that science means that some things can be found to be wrong. Phlogiston is not a viable idea about heat and is not coming back or capable of making potential contributions. The humor theory of disease is a done deal, and while one could try to conceptualize endocrinology as having affinities to “humors”, one would be throwing away the realization we have that such diseases have causes within genetics and development. The whole program of trying to justify “humor theory” would be worse than useless; it would be actively misleading. And that is precisely where I see ID now. It began as a sham. Its claims, where it had any, were invalid. Its continued use as a label for real scientific work that has nothing to do with it is actively misleading. Maybe your book has an argument I haven’t considered before, but I think that I will remain skeptical for the moment.

    It is not gentlemanly to call someone an ass and moronic.

    Please try to read for comprehension. It’s your argument that I called moronic, not you. And your behavior in this matter has not been that of someone behaving nicely. Just because I haven’t been sugar-coating what I’ve said doesn’t make it wrong, or even “ungentlemanly”. The notion that because I say WIDF addresses Chadwick and DeHaan’s idea for an approach does not mean that it “proves that living organisms do not follow any objective natural laws”. That is nowhere close to being a valid inference from what I’ve said, and it does reflect badly upon you. Why would you say such a thing, other than as an attack? Don’t act like you haven’t gone on the offensive yourself here.

    I imagine that NCSE will be obtaining a copy of your book soon enough. I’ll wait for that if you aren’t willing to send one along, or to have your publisher send one. As for you and WIDF, I would have thought that someone who claims to have something to say about the status of ideas called “intelligent design” would be interested in the current state of thought in the scholarly community. It makes me wonder about the level of scrutiny that I will find when I do read your book.

  • 2006/08/20 at 2:21 pm
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    I am still wondering why you think that the hypothesis “A certain pesticide in the environment can trigger the very genetic mutation which increases the mosquito’s resistance to that pesticide” could not or should not be pursued by serious scientists, or why it should be illegal to bring it up in a science classroom in Arkansas for students to perhaps one day pursue. I see no religious conflict with such a hypothesis. What problem do you have with it? Why do you think it is unscientific? Where is the connection with Creationism or the Scopes trial? Whether the hypothesis is proven or disproven, I still think that the scientific method should be pursued even if the hypothesis sounds like intelligent design. To refuse to apply the scientific method to a hypothesis based on alleged links to Creationism does a disservice to the field of biology.

  • 2006/08/20 at 8:30 pm
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    Glenn, you seem to be very confused. I’ve never said that a hyothesis that pesticides may have an effect on mosquitoes should be left uninvestigated. Also, there has been no exclusion of anyone wanting to develop an “intelligent design” hypothesis from doing so, testing it, and reporting on it. That first step has never been taken. I was at the 1997 NTSE conference where this discussion went on at length, with ID advocates urging that ID should be considered science right then and being asked what a hypothesis derived from ID would look like and how could it be tested. They had no answer then, and they have none now.

    The refusal to apply scientific method is precisely the problem that ID advocates have. What “intelligent design” advocates have done so far is ignore the scientific method and the scientific community and pressed for untested assertions and various old, bogus antievolution arguments to be put directly into high school science curricula as if they were science. No sale.

  • 2006/08/21 at 4:04 am
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    Whether it was following up on a hypothesis, or just a plain discovery, I read about the genetic sequence for an entire piece of the bacterial flagellum – such as the whip or the syringe part – being transferred “in toto” (which I understand to mean like a complete package deal). This information is used to refute Behe’s idea that the flagellum is “irreducibly complex”, and that there is no need for it to be genetically built up through a gradual step by step process, since biology shows that whole pieces can be added at once (lump genetic deposit from an outside organism). For me, however, all this does is shift the question of irreducible complexity from the flagellum organism to the piece (organ). If the piece cannot be built up genetically, minute step by minute step, and must come “in toto” to be functional, then the piece (the whip or the syringe, for instance) seems to be irreducibly complex. We know that the bacterial flagellum could have received a new working part from an outside agent, but then where did the outside agent get the part?

    The discovery of a genetic transfer “in toto” borrowed from another organism is an ID discovery if you look at it from that approach. Nothing has held scientists back from making this ID discovery, or publishing it, or having it peer-reviewed. It’s just that nobody used the words “intelligent design” in their findings, so it is often ignored as ID-related. It goes against the gradual step-by-step development of the genetic pieces of the organs of the bacterial flagellum, and says that the organ could have been acquired by the species intact.

    To make an assertion that the part could not have evolved is to ignore the scientific process, but to wonder if it could have evolved it all instead of assuming it did is just keeping an open mind. Just like we can’t make the assumption that subatomic particles behave like atoms, we can’t assume that evolution on tiny levels is the same as evolution on higher levels. To use the scientific method to find what natural laws may govern the initial appearance of parts like the syringe of the bacterial flagellum, and be open to it being a different process from Darwinian gradual step-by-step evolution – that in itself is Intelligent Design, and it’s the most that Intelligent Design can do while staying within the bounds of science.

    It’s not anti-evolution, and it’s nothing different from what science should be doing anyway. The work in the lab is no different for an ID scientist than for any other, the laws of evolution are not suspended for the ID scientist, the discoveries and hypotheses should be no different. The only difference is that someone with an ID background can be open to more possibilities and more conjectures and a broader range of conclusions than someone who is trapped in a traditional Darwinian mindset.

    From what you have written in your last post, you should have no problem with the approach to ID that I lay out in my book. It will require ID advocates to drop the unfounded claims and assertions, and just stick to the traditional scientific process, leaving behind all the politics and religion that they seem to think are at stake. If most scientists think like you, they are already open-minded enough to handle ID hypotheses such as the one I spelled out regarding mosquitoes and pesticides. It’s just a matter of ignoring that it is an ID hypothesis and simply going about the daily business of science, being open to new paradigms as they have been in the past.

  • 2006/08/21 at 8:07 am
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    The work of actually finding stuff out about genetics is not being done by ID advocates, and it isn’t being done using anything ID advocates talk about. Trying to say that it is happening as an “ID approach” is, to my mind, lying. I happen to object to passing on falsehoods as if they were true. Like setting up advertising copy that ignores relevant work in order to score points. Remember that? If I take a look now, will the advertising copy have been fixed?

  • 2006/08/24 at 1:09 pm
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    Ongoing advancements in genetics generally are not being done by ID advocates, and it does not matter whether they are ID advocates or not. The important thing here is to advance science, not ID. The ones who are more open-minded are using ID in their work. The stuff ID advocates are talking about would have to change in order to get past the culture wars, and this is the appeal in my book.

    I am trying to get back to why you think I should change my “advertising copy” as you call it. CTH does not focus on the science, but on the politics and ideologies, so I don’t see a need to change anything there.

    You are saying that I should mention the book WIDF, because it takes a scientific approach. Well, I’ve just read http://www.butterfliesandwheels.com/articleprint.php?num=90, and it summarizes many of the key points of WIDF. From what I can tell there, the authors are serious about natural science, but the claims they (you) are opposing do not take ID seriously as natural science, so no, WIDF does not address the points I make. Even if it did, I do not presume that my book is the only one that does so – there could be others – and in the advertising copy I don’t claim to be the only one.

    Look again, Chadwick and DeHaan wrote:

    “At least two possible approaches to studying intelligent design can be explored. First one may posit … as real and objective as the laws of physics … This approach places design squarely in the natural order.

    The second approach may be to grant the above, but to claim further that the designer acted in nature …”

    For WIDF to show that evolution is the most logical way that diverse life forms were formed, and to use scientific evidence to show how it could have been possible, says nothing for or against such intelligent design as falls squarely in the natural order. Any theory of intelligent design which falls under natural science would have to take very seriously everything which has been proven or proposed regarding evolution. When Behe writes, “Therefore, they are the product of some designing agency,” he is clearly stepping outside of natural science, so to refute Behe’s statement is not to take ID seriously as a natural science either.

    To address the second law of thermodynamics, or the statistical probability of life beginning, these also do not sound like natural science approaches to biology. WIDF considers part of the second ID claim to be “Something other than nature alone must have done it,” so that is DEFINITELY outside the realm of natural science. To refute that claim is not to address ID as a natural science. Regarding the third claim, WIDF says that the ID claim intends to contrast regularity (physical law) as probable causes, against specified complexity, so there again the ID side is not being considered as a physical natural law, but as something outside of natural law or opposed to it. These are all ID claims which Chadwick and DeHaan lump into the second approach to ID, not the first.

    In addressing ID as a natural science there is no “massive output” of ID claims, but somewhere between zero and very few, none of which seem to be addressed in WIDF, and none of which seem to be addressed by ID advocates at large. To take ID seriously as a natural science, the contribution to science is trimmed way, way down from what ID proponents are attempting.

    So, not only does CTH ignore the first approach, but so do the well-known and proliferous ID advocates, and so does WIDF if it only addresses what those ID advocates are addressing.

    I see a whole, whole lot out there dealing with the second approach, and this is what has polarized the debate. Where we can all come together is with the first approach, if both sides are willing to do that, but so far, no, I know of no good books considering ID only as it pertains to natural science. WIDF does not fit the bill.

    The day we have natural scientists seriously writing about ID principles foreign to what today’s ID proponents are proposing, and which cannot be refuted so simply on the scientific level, that is the day that we will get past the culture wars regarding intelligent design.

  • 2006/08/24 at 1:35 pm
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    Another look at the advertising copy you criticize: “In Getting Past the Culture Wars, I appeal to … (Intelligent Design) Creationists to drop their preconceived, visceral baggage and take a fresh look, with reason and fair-mindedness, at the first approach.” The problem is that they are caught up in the overblown and pretentious claims of the second approach which you so easily overthrow in your book WIDF. Of course, those claims can be ruled out as unscientific. If Intelligent Design Creationists would convert over to the first approach which is a natural science approach, then they would be intelligent design scientists. Those intelligent design scientists who are already out there doing the grunt work of biology are so turned off by the second approach that ID creationists are taking, that they do as much as they can to distance themselves from the ID movement and the ID terminology, so their ID work does not get noticed as ID-related – it just falls right in step with traditional science and the establishment – which is perfectly fine!

    Let the second approach be taken by religious advocates and philosophers, and let them openly admit that what they are studying is not science but a particular philosophy of science.

    All you have done in WIDF is taken popular ID philosophy and shown how it is not scientific, and definitely not part of natural science. You claim “Been there, done that” and say you’ve “met the criterion” I state, but all you actually do is further the lines of thinking along the second approach to ID that the popular ID advocates are making, while STILL ignoring Chadwick and DeHaan’s first approach of what ID would look like as only a natural science.

    Write a book which only deals with ID in so much as it falls into the category of natural science, and then I’ll revisit my advertising copy. Your book probably won’t be much longer than my 119 pages, if at all.

  • 2006/08/24 at 1:53 pm
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    You pointed out my mistake with the word “credulous” when I meant “credible”, so now I will freely point out your mistake where you wrote that my book came out (allegedly according to amazon.com) on July 19, 2006, when it was actually June (in actuality and according to amazon.com).

    Anyway, here is another quote from you which I am paralleling in my half of the discussion:
    “Certainly, that leaves a lot of scope for someone who actually wanted to pursue science to do something different, but why would they want to use the ID label or any of the bogus arguments that come from way back in religious antievolution?” That is my point exactly. They do not want to use the ID label, and they want to distance themselves from the bogus arguments that go back to religious anti-evolution; all that being the second approach. On the other hand, there is a lot of scope for those who actually pursue science to do new and different things; that is the first approach I am advocating. If we take away the stigma of ID and redefine it as the natural science approach, that frees people up from the politics and ideological taboos, and allows us to move forward with professional and intellectual integrity. It is the only way we can truly follow the evidence where it leads, and maintain an open and creative mind fertile for new discoveries and ideas.

    The way things are headed currently, the social stigmas are beginning to interfere with open scientific debate. There is a culture war going on, instead of cultural cooperation and unity. People are getting afraid to speak their mind regarding scientific intelligent design for fear of being rejected as unscientific, when it is really only guilt through association.

  • 2006/08/29 at 10:14 am
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    Dear Wesley,

    I would like to refer you to a critical review of the book Traipsing into Evolution: Intelligent Design and the Kitzmiller v. Dover Decision (paperback). In the review by Tim Beazley, he talks about the false dichotomy. “There is no known natural cause for X, therefore X is attributable to design.” He then points out the third category which Behe allegedly ignores: unknown natural causes.

    Where Beazley creates a false dichotomy is in assuming that known natural causes and unknown natural causes do not fall into the category of intelligent design. They certainly can, and that is what my book addresses. Too many people create a false dichotomy between intelligent design and natural causes.

  • 2006/09/03 at 12:06 am
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    Wesley,

    On Aug 29, Glenn Schrom accused me of “creat[ing] a false dichotomy” in my review of something Michael Behe wrote in the Discovery Institute’s recent book “Traipsing Into Evolution.”

    In reality, I was paraphrasing arguments that Behe and other ID-iots make. If Schrom wants to complain that “Too many people create a false dichotomy between intelligent design and natural causes,” he is welcome to do so, but he should aim his accusations more accurately. The false dichotomy Schrom is complaining about came from Michael Behe, not from me. If Schrom is so clueless that he can’t figure out a simple thing like that, then that doesn’t inspire much confidence in his ability to figure out more complex issues.

    Tim Beazley

    P.S. If you want to verify just how badly Schrom mangled my argument, you can read my argument in its entirety in the customer comments section for “Traipsing Into Evolution” at amazon.com.

  • 2006/09/03 at 8:10 pm
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    Tim, I am hoping that Wesley doesn’t mind hosting this communication between us. I have read your review, and I have re-read mine. I do not accuse you of anything; in fact I don’t mention you at all in my review. You and I agree about the false dichotomy that you mention in your review. You say that I am too clueless to figure out who the false dichotomy comes from, but the truth is that I am not concerned with who it comes from. That’s just not an issue to me, and I made no statement either way about who it comes from.

    If I am free to complain that too many people create a false dichotomy between intelligent design and natural causes, then let me be free to make my complaint. There is no accusation to be more accurate about. I didn’t mention Behe by name, but I do in my book. Yes, he is one of those people who tends to set up the false dichotomy that I am complaining about. My problem is not with people, but with certain ideas and logical fallacies. I am not bothered about who specifically might express a biased idea, but I am bothered when misleading ideas are taken for solid thinking, and I want to point out the fallacy so that we can all approach the issue more clearly.

    I don’t think I mangle your argument in the least. Your argument is that the false dichotomy between known natural causes and supernatural causes precludes the third option of unknown natural causes. Far from mangling it, I practically quote it verbatim. Here is the paragraph from my review that you are talking about:

    While there is a false dichotomy between “known natural causes vs. supernatural causes” (a third option is unknown natural causes), there is also a false dichotomy between natural causes and design (a third option is natural intelligent design). Intelligent design and unknown natural causes – or even known natural causes for that matter – are very well compatible. In fact, much ID theory is drawn from observing natural evidence and bringing reason to bear on it, requiring no supernatural speculation whatsoever. An atheist scientist is just as capable of developing ID theory as a theistic one.

  • 2006/09/04 at 9:59 pm
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    One of the irritating things about people like Shrom and similar ID-iots is how they can’t keep track of their own arguments.

    On 29 Aug, Shrom said: “Where Beazley creates a false dichotomy is in assuming that known natural causes and unknown natural causes do not fall into the category of intelligent design.” Notice, Shrom specifically named me as the guilty party. When I pointed out that I had not proposed any dichotomy at all, but rather had merely pointed out that arguments actually made by Michael Behe lacked the essential elements of Behe’s theoretically valid dichotomy, Shrom responded with a brand new statement, “I do not accuse [Beazley] of anything; in fact I don’t mention you at all in my review.”

    Well, Shrom, whether you mentioned me in your review or not, you did accuse me of creating a false dichotomy in your post to Wesley. Your accusation in that post was false, and your refusal to admit that speaks volumes about your integrity.

    Furthermore, your additional comment, that “[Beazley’s] argument is that the false dichotomy between known natural causes and supernatural causes precludes the third option of unknown natural causes,” simply compounds your error. Your claim about what I said is not only a grotesque misrepresentation of what I actually said, it is also completely nonsensical. For your information, a false dichotomy does not “preclude” a third option, rather it is the existence of a third option that makes the dichotomy false. Either you can’t understand simple English sentences, or you don’t have the intellectual integrity to admit your mistakes.

  • 2006/09/05 at 2:26 am
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    I started reading Glenn’s book last week. Various things have intervened with greater priority, so I haven’t made it all the way through. So far, I’m not impressed. I’m taking down notes while going through, though, so I expect to be writing some posts on the content of the book in the future.

    The big meta-issue I see so far is Shrom’s relevant experience and knowledge of the subject matter. Pretty much the preponderance of references are to Behe’s Darwin’s Black Box and one debate. This has struck me as an awfully thin basis upon which to write a book with such pretensions to significance.

  • 2006/09/09 at 10:32 am
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    Tim Beazley,

    My mistake has nothing to do with what I think regarding ID, and nothing to do with being an idiot, I assure you. When I think of Tim Beazley, I think of your review on amazon.com, and not of what I or you wrote on the Austringer site. Yes, I see my mistake now. I definitely did mention your name on Aug. 29 on this site, even though I did not mention your name on amazon.com.

    If I “accuse” you of anything, it is of creating a false dichotomy (in what you wrote on amazon) between natural causes (known or unknown) and intelligent design, similar to what Behe does. Perhaps I should change my wording from “creating” a false dichotomy to “perpetuating” that type of thinking created by Behe.

    You may choose to agree with me that natural causes and intelligent design are entirely compatible, or you may choose to disagree with me and agree with Behe that they are mutually exclusive. What is your position so far?

    I stand corrected that a false dichotomy does not preclude third options, it only intends to preclude third options. I think it is an issue of semantics, and you knew what I meant. Regardless, I admit my mistake. We should all try to be more exact with our language, and when we do that we find much more agreement. My point was that I agree with you on the three possibilities there; there are definitely more than just two. I was not trying to mangle your argument, but to paraphrase it and support it.

  • 2006/09/09 at 11:12 am
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    Even Behe allows for some natural causes when he talks about intervention from extraterrestrial aliens and about time-travelling biologists from the future, but those options sound much more like science fiction. The point is that he allows for more than just the supernatural, and so should we when we think of intelligent design. I don’t think Behe goes nearly far enough in considering the compatibility between ID and natural science, and he seems to do that because he wants people to believe in God as the Creator of the purpose we perceive in nature.

    The research (academic research, not scientific research) and thinking I did for my book was in this direction. The only “pretension to significance” is to get more people thinking in this direction. It doesn’t take a lot of exposure to the ID debates to pick up that a great deal of the controversy is between the supernatural and the natural sciences.

    It may even be better to have someone not immersed in the same-old argument lines to point this stuff out.

    Casey Luskin’s review calls my book a “unique little book which rises above the rhetoric”. Wesley seems to want to reject my book because there is not enough of the rhetoric he is accustomed to and comfortable with. Perhaps the problem is that my book is way below the scientific pretensions, instead of because it is trying to sound significant. I purposely want to ignore the arguments of the high-profile names in Intelligent Design, because the experts are having no trouble at all with making counter-arguments … they don’t need my humble help with that part … but they may need my two cents to help keep from throwing out the baby with the bathwater in the process.

    When I share my views with people in the thick of it, they don’t reject my views as wrong so much as telling me that my views do not fit into their framework or do not address the issues they are currently working on.

    A science professor I know agrees 1) that very few people stress the secular aspects of ID ideas, 2) that very few people (in the ID movement) decry the sectarian aspects of ID ideas, 3) that separating the two would take a lot of momentum out of the movement, and 4) that the separation needs to take place for scientists to take ID seriously and for people outside of religious circles to take it seriously.

    As far as I know, my book is the only book out there trying to do this, but that is its only significance. I would be thrilled to see twenty better books appear on the market with similar objectives, and written by people with much more experience and insight. You can take it as a layman asking the scientific and religious communities to grow up, because I hear what you all are saying and it is childish, shortsighted, and very unproductive.

    It is a modest proposal to ask people to go beyond the culture wars, see what can be agreed on, stop the name-calling, and further the cause of serious natural science without all the religious and supernatural baggage that gets in the way of progress. If a scientist does not believe in the supernatural, that is fine. Just see what ID ideas can be used in natural science and run with them, but don’t reject them because of the source or because of the associations or implications.

    ID in natural science may go unnoticed, and that is fine. The debates would end, and people would just get back to work. Let science be science, and let philosophy be philosophy.

  • 2006/09/10 at 2:33 pm
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    Dear Wesley,

    In my first response (#1 for this page) I wrote that what I am trying to do is fairly simple and down to earth, in contrast to the pretensions of the foremost ID proponents. I wish you would remove this page from the “antievolution” category of your archives, since there really is no antievolution discussion going on here.

    On the #2 response which you wrote, you said, “Certainly, that leaves a lot of scope for someone who actually wanted to pursue science to do something different, but why would they want to use the ID label or any of the bogus arguments that come from way back in religious antievolution?”

    My book basically agrees with you on all four points, and I am appealing to the ID movement to:
    1) Drop the ID label (as a good option, on an equal footing with redefining the ID label). The specific ideas are more important than the need to categorize different ideas under some kind of blanket label, and if you can’t put a new face to an old name, then it is time to drop the name (that went with the ugly face).
    2) Drop the bogus arguments. What is unscientific, illogical, irrational, disproven, childish, shortsighted, or unproductive should be discarded.
    3) Drop the religion. If you want to talk about God, find the appropriate forum in which to do so; and if you want to talk about science, respect the pluralism of our scientific community.
    4) Drop the anti-evolution. There has been no proof offered that certain biological structures could not have evolved.

    I appeal to the scientific community to:
    1) Ignore the ID label. Don’t reject certain ideas or new ideas (whether your own or someone else’s) based on the source, the associations, or the implications, but isolate those parts of the ideas which can be expressed in natural science and work with them.
    2) Drop the bogus arguments. Determinism is not the only factor operating in the universe, since we ourselves act purposefully which we know by experience.
    3) Get over the religion. Don’t throw out the baby with the bathwater. Just because someone contemplates or believes in the supernatural does not mean that none of their ideas are of any earthly good.
    4) Drop the anti-ID. Be willing to explore your own arguments for intelligent design which have nothing to do with religion and the supernatural, instead of looking to the ID camp to have to come up with everything on their own. Darwinist ideas do not have to be discarded or disproven in order to think through ID scenarios. In the absence of absolute proof, the open-minded and large-brained can explore multiple possibilities and live with the reality that sometimes we don’t have all the answers or can’t narrow explanations down to only one possibility.

  • 2006/09/11 at 8:12 pm
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    I’ve opened a new thread based on material from Glenn’s book.

    It’s really ironic that Glenn should be advising others to “drop the bogus arguments”. Motes, beams… you know the drill.

  • 2006/09/13 at 1:10 pm
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    Why all this attention to a self-published weez?

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