Monday, August 07, 2006

Dover - The History of ID

The discussion of the history of the intelligent design movement in Judge Jones opinion comes in the section in which the Judge seeks to determine whether the Dover school Board were guilty of endorsing or disapproving a particular religious viewpoint.

Judge Jones seeks to establish the proposition that ID is a religious strategy that evolved from earlier forms of creationism. He concludes:

“the evidence at trial demonstrates that ID is nothing less than the progeny of creationism.”

(I understand that to mean- ID is nothing but the progeny of creationism.
I understand creationism to mean - the Fundamentalist effort to get God and the bible into state funded science lessons.)

This argument swallows the false idea that ID is nothing but creationism in a new box. It is exactly the same product with a new label.

There are at least 4 problems with this argument.

1. He argues that the strongest evidence supporting this finding is the history and pedigree of the book Pandas and People which is mentioned in the text that teachers were to read to pupils.

In coming to his conclusion Judge Jones places great weight upon the implied intentions of changes of language in the text of “Pandas and People” (the text that was mentioned in the paragraphs to be read to students) to establish the point that ID is a religious matter. Barbara Forest’s analysis and interpretation of the textual changes is swallowed hook line and sinker despite the fact that it conflicts with the explicit testimony of one of the authors Charles Thaxton included as part of his deposition:

“I wasn’t comfortable with the typical vocabulary that for most part creationists were using because it didn’t express what I was trying to do. They were wanting to bring God into the discussion, and I was wanting to stay within the empirical domain and do what you can do legitimately there.”

Why should Barbara Forest have a better insight into the intentions of the authors than one of the authors themselves? Why does the Judge describes Forest’s book “Creationism’s Trojan Horse” as a “thorough and exhaustive chronicle of the history of ID”? Why should we accept Forest’s description of ID as entirely objective and non-partisan?

2. It fails to recognise the ancient nature of the argument.
These arguments did not spring into Aquinas’s brain from nowhere. There are two more ancient streams of thought one of which is not of Judeo-Christian. Socrates, Plato and Aristotle argued that mind is a prerequisite for life, Heraclitus, Empedocles, Democritus and Anaximander argued the reverse. Cicero argued for design well before the Christain Era.

3. It fails to do just to the nature of the recent revival of the design argument stimulated by the discoveries of nano-technology and information systems in molecular biology. It was the significance of these discoveries that cause chemist and philosopher Michael Polanyi to argue in 1967 that “machines are not reducible to physics and chemistry” and that “likewise the mechanistic structures of living beings appear to be likewise irreducible.”

It was Michael Denton’s book “Evolution - a Theory in Crisis” that caused the radical change in direction for Micahel Behe. Denton’s book has no connection to Christianity or creationism and Denton himself was not a Christian.

Several other leading ID thinkers testify that it is the molecular biology that led them to ID not the bible.

4. It fails to recognise the importance of the design debate in physics and Cosmology going back to Fred Hoyles conviction that the carbon 12 resonance evidence pointed to “some superintellect has monkeyed with physics as well as chemistry and biology.”

14 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"“the evidence at trial demonstrates that ID is nothing less than the progeny of creationism.”

(I understand that to mean- ID is nothing but the progeny of creationism."


No. If he had meant this, he would have said "the evidence at trial demonstrates that ID is nothing more than the progeny of creationism."


"This argument swallows the false idea that ID is nothing but creationism in a new box. It is exactly the same product with a new label."

No. It makes the legal opinion that the two are sufficiently similar that legal precedants applying to one would apply to the other.


"Why should Barbara Forest have a better insight into the intentions of the authors than one of the authors themselves?"

Because if the authors were attempting to obfuscate that ID is essentially creationism, they would be unlikely to admit the fact.


"Why does the Judge describes Forest’s book “Creationism’s Trojan Horse” as a “thorough and exhaustive chronicle of the history of ID”?"

Because it was well-researched and substantiated. Her throughness is perhaps one reason why the ID side concentrated on attempting to get Forrest excluded, rather than attempting to present their own testimony contesting her version of events.


"Why should we accept Forest’s description of ID as entirely objective and non-partisan?"

He wouldn't. He would however accept that it is well-substantiated and largely uncontested.


"2. It fails to recognise the ancient nature of the argument.
These arguments did not spring into Aquinas’s brain from nowhere."


Read the decision! What Jones in fact said was "[Haught] traced this argument back to at least Thomas Aquinas in the 13th century..." (my emphasis)

Jones did not claim that the idea originated with Aquinas - he explicitly left the origin open!


"It was the significance of these discoveries that cause chemist and philosopher Michael Polanyi to argue in 1967 that “machines are not reducible to physics and chemistry” and that “likewise the mechanistic structures of living beings appear to be likewise irreducible.”"

As far as I know, Polanyi's heirs have explicitly distanced him from the ID movement (during the Dembski-Baylor furore), making his relevance at best questionable. If the ID side wanted Polyani and Denton to be front and centre in Jones' thinking on the history of ID, then they should have presented their own experts present testimony on them. Meyer might have been qualified to offer testimony on this, if the DI hadn't withdrawn the bulk of their experts in a strategic blunder.


"4. It fails to recognise the importance of the design debate in physics and Cosmology going back to Fred Hoyles conviction that the carbon 12 resonance evidence pointed to “some superintellect has monkeyed with physics as well as chemistry and biology.”"

The case was about a disclaimer given to a biology class. Additionally, neither side ventured too far into physics and cosmology (except for Behe's frequent references to the Big Bang).

A judge must rule solely on the basis of the facts presented before him. Physics and cosmology weren't presented, so physics and cosmology weren't considered.

1:00 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is what the judge saw in court: the origin of the "intelligent design" terminology, suspiciously just after the 1987 Supreme Court decision that ruled "creation science" unconstitutional:

Creation means that the various forms of life began abruptly through the agency of an intelligent creator with their distinctive features already intact—fish with fins and scales, birds with feathers, beaks, and wings, etc. (Biology and Creation 1986, FTE 3015, p. 2-10)

Creation means that various forms of life began abruptly through the agency of an intelligent Creator with their distinctive features already intact—fish with fins and scales, birds with feathers, beaks, and wings, etc. (Biology and Origins 1987, FTE 3235, p. 2-13)

Creation means that various forms of life began abruptly through the agency of an intelligent Creator with their distinctive features already intact—fish with fins and scales, birds with feathers, beaks, and wings, etc. (Pandas 1987, creationist version, FTE 4996-4997, pp. 2-14, 2-15)

Intelligent design means that various forms of life began abruptly through an intelligent agency, with their distinctive features already intact—fish with fins and scales, birds with feathers, beaks, and wings, etc. (Pandas 1987, intelligent design version, FTE 4667, p. 2-15)

Intelligent design means that various forms of life began abruptly through an intelligent agency, with their distinctive features already intact — fish with fins and scales, birds with feathers, beaks, and wings, etc. (Pandas 1989, 1st edition, published, pp. 99-100)

Intelligent design means that various forms of life began abruptly through an intelligent agency, with their distinctive features already intact — fish with fins and scales, birds with feathers, beaks, and wings, etc. (Pandas 1993, 2nd edition, published, pp. 99-100)

How much clearer could it possibly be that ID=creationism?

4:47 am  
Blogger allygally said...

anonymous said: "How much clearer could it possibly be that ID=creationism?"


From the extract of the trancsripts posted by anonymous, it seems obvious that the people who wrote "Of Pandas and People" believed that ID and creationism are the same thing, otherwise why make such a direct substitution?

So the question for Andrew must be: why do you doubt it?

11:55 am  
Blogger Andrew Rowell said...

Anonymous,

Can you provide a clear explanation of the difference in meaning in practical terms of the two statements:

1.the evidence at trial demonstrates that ID is nothing less than the progeny of creationism
2.the evidence at trial demonstrates that ID is nothing more than the progeny of creationism

4:18 pm  
Blogger Andrew Rowell said...

Anon,

"Jones did not claim that the idea originated with Aquinas - he explicitly left the origin open!"

Haught knows very well that Aquinas got it from Aristotle... but it suited his argument better to say at least Aquinas.

4:20 pm  
Blogger Andrew Rowell said...

Anon-

My question really is this... Why should we trust Barbara Forests suggestion about the motivation of an editorial decision more than the testimony of the editor himself?

4:22 pm  
Blogger Andrew Rowell said...

Allygally & Anon
re- ID=Creationism.

We need to be very careful about the meanings of the labels.

ID is distingishable from traditional creationism. Its arguments and stimulus are different from traditional creationism. To say that they are the same thing is to be guilty of sloppy definition.

4:30 pm  
Blogger allygally said...

Andrew said: " Why should we trust Barbara Forests suggestion about the motivation of an editorial decision more than the testimony of the editor himself?"

We don't HAVE to trust Forrest. We should trust the evidence. And the evidence is very strong (part of it posted earlier by Anonymous showing the blatant substitution of "creation" and derivatives with "intelligent design" and derivatives). It's as plain as the nose on you face, (if you want to see it)regardless of who is presenting the evidence.

Of course the judge may have got the sense that he could trust Forrest from the solidity of her research and the direct style of her presentation.

And maybe we don't trust the editor. If he is shifty. If he doesn't even read the literature related to his "expertise". If he goes through his book making substitutions which have the effect of appearing to avoid the implications of a recent judgement... which shows that in the editor' mind ID=creationism, and then the editor turns up in the witness box stating the exact opposite.

You have to admit: it looks shady. Would you buy a used flagellum from this man? Notonyerlife, yer 'onour!

7:50 pm  
Blogger allygally said...

Andrew said: "ID is distingishable from traditional creationism. Its arguments and stimulus are different from traditional creationism. To say that they are the same thing is to be guilty of sloppy definition."

If the arguments are distinguisahble, how can a book which was written to promote the creationist case have the word "creation" scored out an the words "intelligent design" substituted without any of the arguments changing?

8:03 pm  
Anonymous Hrafn said...

"Can you provide a clear explanation of the difference in meaning in practical terms of the two statements:

1.the evidence at trial demonstrates that ID is nothing less than the progeny of creationism
2.the evidence at trial demonstrates that ID is nothing more than the progeny of creationism"


1 implies that being the "progeny of creationism" is a subset of what ID is (i.e. ID is the progeny of creationism, but not just the progeny of creationism).

2 implies that ID is a subset of being the "progeny of creationism" (i.e. there is nothing in ID that wasn't already in creationism).

1:11 pm  
Anonymous Hrafn said...

"Its arguments and stimulus are different from traditional creationism."

The vast majority of ID arguments have been found in the pre-existing creationist literature. Many prominent ID advocates have described it in explicitly creationist terms. And its "stimulus" has always been pervasively religious.

1:19 pm  
Anonymous Hrafn said...

"My question really is this... Why should we trust Barbara Forests suggestion about the motivation of an editorial decision more than the testimony of the editor himself?"

Because people frequently lie about their motivations. Therefore Jones accepted Forrest's substantiated assertions over Thaxton's unsubstantiated assertions.

Do you have a complete transcript of this deposition? It is hard to assess its overall impact and how reliable Jones might find it without seeing the entire document.

Incidentally, at this time John Buell was FTE's academic editor, Charles Thaxton was its president.

2:06 pm  
Anonymous Hrafn said...

"Haught knows very well that Aquinas got it from Aristotle... but it suited his argument better to say at least Aquinas."

If the defense thought that the pre-Aquinas roots were of importance, then they should have raised them in cross-examination of Haught.

Additionally, Haught was testifying as a theologian, not as a historian, so would be under no obligation to be exhaustive in providing a history of the idea (particularly any pre-Christian history), as his testimony would have naturally concentrated on its place within Christian theology.

3:19 pm  
Blogger Ed Darrell said...

I think the totality of the evidence clearly demonstrated that Haught's claims were not only unsubstantiated, but largely false. The Foundation for "Thought" and "Ethics" got caught saying things that were exactly contrary to what their internal documents demonstrated.

Forrest was found to be truthful, and the authors and promoters of the Pandas and People were shown repeatedly not to be so truthful.

At least two stunts really showed the FTE to be less than honorable, and perhaps full-bore cranks: Their pull-back of Dembski as a witness on bizarre, probably false pretenses; and their later, unethical attempt to sneak their previous testimony into the trial as an amicus brief.

FTE in effect said they wanted to protect their market for their book rather than help the federal court come to a fair decision. They chose money over God, and the judge could not fail to notice that.

Why in the world wouldn't any person of honor take Dr. Forrest's word over FTE's?

4:16 am  

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