Science on Localized Events in Distant Past

Well yes, I do know that. But what evidence in theology do we have that this is remotely plausible heuristic? Regarding creation, Scripture goes out of its way to emphasize that “God’s ways are not our ways.”

See edit above.

I ask this sincere question of Guy and others: Have you come upon any ID related publications which provide compelling and rigorous heuristics for determining for any X whether X is “intelligently designed” or “not intelligently designed”? I’ve been looked for such for many years now.

Such heuristics would be an extremely useful breakthrough for scientists in many fields. For example, archaeologists, anthropologists, geologists, and biologists sometimes find a mysterious object(s) which cannot easily be identified. They want to know, “Is this object X the natural product of geological processes? Was X produced by the routine metabolism of some living organisms? Was X created by an ancient artisan?” That aspect of “intelligent design” investigation would certainly be a valid endeavor which every scientists should be able to support.

I hope it is obvious that, toward the aforementioned goal, very general concepts like “irreducible complexity” have not been fruitful and haven’t survived peer review, to say the least. And many such efforts have descended into little more than god-of-the-gaps arguments. The cross-ex of Dr. Behe in the Dover Trial put a huge kabosh on the classic IC examples, although a lot of ID advocates apparently never got the memo and continue to pretend that scientists have no explanations for the evolution of blood coagulation, flagella, etc. (Behe was shown various peer-reviewed journal articles which explained the phenomena he claimed were unexplained and pointing to Intelligent Design. All of the other ID witnesses left town before being called to the witness stand for similar cross-ex. Everybody else bailed once they knew that ID was about to get destroyed in a P.R. disaster.)

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Irreducible Complexity, as least the first definition of it (IC1), was such a thing. However, it failed, and was given a new definition (IC2).

IC1 was such a definition, but it was falsified.

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The Dover trial was a circus, and the tie clip analogy can be easily countered. The Center for Science and Culture actually counseled the Dover School District NOT to take the approach they took. It was no more a disaster for ID than the Scopes Trial was for evolution. Misunderstood new paradigms often fail to register on the poular level radar. As for your question on ID’s criterion for justification, why not send that question to ENV or any other CSC forum, and you might be surprised at the wealth of information available. What I can’t predict is what will pass muster with you. Good hunting!

However, at the SAME TIME, they were encouraging the much bigger circus of the Kansas Hearings:

You can’t tell only half the story.

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Mea Culpa… as a social/ “scientific” movement (he openly risks ridicule by saying), I am not aware of every iteration of the controversy.
Truth be told, I would hope ID would welcome the chance to face falsification, adjust and make better definitions and even predictions, just like evolution has over the last couple of centuries. We’ve been chasing this “moving target” for quite some time now, in all camps

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I won’t pursue the tangent of evaluating that comparison.

(1) I would say that the ID paradigm has registered quite significantly on “the popular level radar” because there are apparently millions of Christians (among others) who are very warm to it.

(2) I’m curious as to how that particular new paradigm was misunderstood.

I have. Many times. And I was indeed surprised—because I got no response.

As I’ve explained, I’m fine with “ID theory” as philosophy. I’ve just never seen anyone even attempt to rigorously define any sort of scientific theory of ID. (Everything is generalities and examples without rigorous hypotheses and falsification testing, the very hallmark of real science.)

Do you consider the “muster” criteria I am applying to be unfair or arbitrary or unconventional? Why shouldn’t a proposed “ID theory” as a compelling scientific concept have to pass the same muster as all other valid science? Do you believe that the many Christian evangelicals in the sciences who have criticized and reject ID as science (e.g., Francis Collins, Ken Miller, et al) are all being unfair?

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That, I think, is what I’m trying to say, which is why I don’t think I’m trying to revise science, but rather to make its limits clearer. Science uncovers (often) hidden regularities, and that’s when it’s science.

The unique aspects of events are what constitute the limitation of science. The equation is what binds together the class of events, but the error comes in believing at some level that it explains the events, rather than being an abstraction from then. One could give examples of this at all levels - “We now know that fear is the activity of certain regions of the brain”; “we can find patterns in genetics which therefore explain evolution or exclude the creation of Adam.”

To me, understanding the limitations enables me to understand better if a scientist is actually doing metaphysics or philosophy in the guise if empirical science. But if (at least sometimes) science is actually being practised with insufficient regard to its epistemological limitations, it’s indeed true I have no power to change it, from outside or even inside. But that doesn’t mean I have to ignore it.


13 posts were split to a new topic: Examining “Signature in the Cell”

That is the right way forward.

Sometimes, your rhetoric slips in a different direction, towards “revision of science”. You are an important voice and I trust you on many things, however in the United States context, that crosses lines and provokes strong resistance from scientists, including me. I think we are actually aligned on the main points, but I don’t have the luxury of being the least bit squishy or sloppy on the details of the rhetoric.

I think you can make your points, and achieve your goals, and ultimately be more successful at convincing people if you understand these rules too. It is up to you of course, and you’ll always be welcome here. I’m just suggesting the better way to “win” is avoiding unnecessarily provoking a negative response.

In the end, this is a good goal. So I’d hope you’d adopt an effective strategy to making that point, that does not require “science to change,” but rather encourages to correctly understand scientific findings from outside science.

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This was not a different iteration. It was happening in 2005, concurrently with the Dover Trial. Reference to the Dover Trial is linked closely with the Kansas Board Hearings. The same players were involved in both. DI regularly talks about how Dover was a mistake that they wanted no part in. However, at the same time, when directly asked about the Kansas Hearings they will either (1) become curiously silent (as we have seen on the boards here), or (2) start vociferously defending their actions in Kansas, validating all the critiques raised about Dover.

So, do not bring up Dover without talking about Kansas. They were so linked at the time, that for a few years I thought Dover was in Kansas, and the Hearings were part of the Trial, incorrectly merging the two events into one. They are not separable stories.

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Wikipedia has a conveniently organized series on “Intelligent Design: Watchmaker Analogy” which includes an informative article on the Kansas Board evolution hearings. It’s a good way to relive the chronology and developments of that era.


Can’t get more “local” than the big bang singularity.

Agree. Yet at what point does “absence of evidence” really does mean “evidence of absence”?

When we legitimately expect evidence and do not find it, that could be evidence of absence.

Sometimes we just assume there will be evidence of an event, but that is not necessarily the case. It takes careful thought to sort out what is expected in the evidence. Sometimes (often) the reality of what we should expect is nothing.

On Adam and Eve, as far as I know, there is zero positive scientific evidence. However, scientific evidence is not why people think they exist, nor do we expect evidence for the existence (if they are in a larger population). It just comes down to whether you trust Scripture, and how you read it. If you find Scripture trustworthy, and feel it gives reliable information that Adam was real, this need not be in conflict with the scientific evidence.

This should not be such a big deal. It is nearly obvious. However, for a long time people have said the opposite. You can even see in the wikipedia page:

There is no physical evidence that Adam and Eve ever literally existed, and their literal existence is incompatible with human evolutionary genetics.

That is just a totally false statement. It misrepresents science and creates a ton of unnecessary conflict. Someone, eventually, needs to get that straight on wikipedia. Maybe some friendly atheists can step up to it =).

3 posts were split to a new topic: Wikipedia and Adam and Eve

Consider that for countless centuries there was an absence of evidence for sub-atomic particles, superconductivity, and mitosis.

(Of course, this illustrates why the pop-level assumption that “absence of evidence implies evidence of absence” is a classic logical fallacy.)

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Yes, and the data just keeps pouring in, faster and faster. How do we live in an ever changing modern world? Do you really think that the answers lie in ancient books? Or that we must evaluate the present situation and make the best judgement for one’s own path forward, look again, adapt to the new situation, …

I’m trying to work out how knowledge of these might help me to live better in the current world. Right now “love your neighbour as yourself” seems more practical.