Swamidass and Cram: Common Ground?

Continuing the discussion from Thinking About Falsifiability and Abiogenesis:

@Ronald_Cram, what do you think are the things we agree on? I know we disagree on a lot, but where is our common ground?

@Ronald_Cram, can you give me something worth talking about other than abiogenesis?

No, I don’t think so. It is the most interesting topic.

You want to paint me as someone who is outside of science. You claim I’m an ID adherent, a common charge when people want to use a broad brush, marginalize their opponents and not really interact with the facts. You even claimed that James Tour’s articles published in Inference were published in an ID journal. That kind of behavior shows you don’t have any respect for your opponents.

In the main, I have not quoted ID proponents in this conversation. I’ve quoted Sean Carroll, James Tour, Robert Shapiro, and Perry Marshall.

I don’t think you have been honest with yourself in looking at the evidence I’ve presented and I don’t think you have been charitable to me.

I love the idea of Peaceable Science. i really do. But, at the moment, it seems like a ruse to me - a cover for some other agenda.

What is the point of Peaceable Science if you are not willing to look honestly at the evidence that is contrary to your opinion?

I will leave you with this article by Robert Shapiro and specifically his quote of Nobel Laureate Christian de Duve who called for “a rejection of improbabilities so incommensurably high that they can only be called miracles, phenomena that fall outside the scope of scientific inquiry.”

Shapiro goes on to say “DNA, RNA, proteins and other elaborate large molecules must then be set aside as participants in the origin of life. Inanimate nature provides us with a variety of mixtures of small molecules, whose behavior is governed by scientific laws, rather than by human intervention.”

I have no doubt that Shapiro is correct and that a few experiments designed to falsify DNA First and RNA World would justify this position. I also believe that Shapiro’s view of Metabolism First could just as swiftly be falsified if anyone had the courage to attempt to do real science in OOL research.

If you want to invite Sean Carroll, James Tour, Robert Shapiro or Perry Marshall to this forum to discuss abiogenesis, I would be happy to participate. I think we would all learn from such a discussion. I only ask that you treat me with respect even if you disagree with my ideas.

2 posts were merged into an existing topic: Thinking About Falsifiability and Abiogenesis

This is a common accusation when someone fails to convince me of something. :smile:

Peace doesn’t come be agreement on all the particulars. It comes when we understand and respect each other despite our disagreements. It is the disagreements that make clear that a real peace is emerging.

Let us imagine you are right and I am wrong on the science. It is not enough to be right. You also have to be trusted. Trust grows with common ground is visible . Build some trust with me? Maybe you will eventually convince me!

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I’d love for you to invite them. Go for it. We can even set up an Office Hours if they come. It is more likely they will come if you invite them. If you want to do office hours, tell me the dates they ageee too and I’ll set it up.

It doesn’t have anything to do with convincing you or not convincing you. It has to do with how you treated me. And how you treated James Tour. You were determined to paint me as someone outside of science who doesn’t deserve a hearing. And you did the same thing to Tour claiming that he was writing for a Discovery Institute publication, as if that alone is reason enough for no one to read what he wrote. If you are going to be successful with this endeavor, you are going to have to treat people with more respect. if you they don’t convince you, then tell them what evidence you would like to see. But the arm-waving and the ill-treatment isn’t helping your stated objectives.

9 posts were merged into an existing topic: Thinking About Falsifiability and Abiogenesis

That is some real common ground. I want to know more.

  1. When and how did you realize the effort to change the education system?

  2. Why do you think changing the education is the wrong focus? How did you come to that position?

  3. What were there scientific misses that you identified?

I am surprised and intrigued. You are not merely “ditto”, sorry I misunderstood you. Tell me more.

  1. Any history of Discovery Institute will tell you about the purpose for which they were created. Philip Johnson is an attorney. He’s the author of the “wedge strategy” paper. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phillip_E._Johnson

  2. Litigation is the wrong focus, because science will win out over lawsuits. Focusing on high schools down to elementary schools is the wrong focus, because students will learn more science at the university. If you win at the research level at universities, then will trickle down to high school and elementary schools.

  3. Discovery Institute tries to be the “big tent” and include both OEC ideas like Hugh Ross and YEC ideas like Dean Kenyon, who I believe is still a fellow at Discovery. YEC has been falsified by both the distant starlight problem and geology. But no matter, Discovery Institute still embraces the model. Also, Discovery Institute has some spokespeople who are not scientists. They give public talks and make mistakes describing a theory as making predictions when in reality the theory was only fitted to the data. It’s important for a theory to fit the data, but we can have a lot more confidence in a theory that fits the data and also makes predictions that end up coming true. These speakers don’t get that.

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So true. How did they miss this obvious fact?

Most litigation these days is to keep creationism in all its forms out of the public education systems. There are over 1000 complaints a year from all over the country where creationism is intentionally injected into public secular education.

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I know. It is a recipe for legal morass. Even a victory is a quagmire.

I don’t know. You would have thought the Scopes trial would have been lesson learned.

I’ve been pretty hard on their scientific positions. Their scientific statements have to be broad enough to encompass both the OEC and YEC position. I think that can be really sloppy. But it is necessary for them because so many of their contributors are YEC. That said, I should probably balance it by pointing out that their science doesn’t always miss.

One ID book I can praise is A Privileged Planet: How Our Place in the Cosmos is Designed for Discovery by Guillermo Gonzalez and Jay Richards. The book covers much of the same ground as Rare Earth: Why Complex Life is Uncommon in the Universe by Ward and Brownlee and Improbable Planet by Hugh Ross. Ward and Brownlee are, I believe, agnostics and so their book is more palatable to atheists. Hugh Ross’s book is good but A Privileged Planet doesn’t just show that our planet is specially equipped for complex life, it is also specially equipped for intelligent inhabitants to do science.

I’ve read this book and it has a staggering amount of information showing the our planet is unique in the solar system for doing science. Our planet could easily support complex life but not be a good location for doing science. Mars and Venus might not be good for complex life, but could conceivably be good for conducting science - but they aren’t.

Unfortunately, Gonzalez was attacked for writing the book and lost his position at the university. Thankfully, he has a new position in academia and is doing well there. If you haven’t read this book, you should.

Another book that I understand is quite good is Signature in the Cell by Stephen Meyer. I haven’t read it yet and so I can’t defend it, but a non-ID scientist I know told me that it was surprisingly good. One of the criticisms of Discovery Institute is that they only try to poke holes in evolution and don’t attempt to put together a viable model of their own. But Signature in the Cell is different. I glanced through the book and saw that it offers a model and a number of predictions based on this model.


I do not know all the details, but this may be one of the cases driven primarily by anti-ID bias, without clear evidence of stubborn error or aggressiveness on Gonzalez part. It seems his primary error was associating with the Discovery Institute. As an untenured faculty in a secular institution, that is pretty much career suicide, no matter what you write. I’m glad he eventually got a job.

That may be right. I have not heard about any fallacious arguments he has made. Some have convinced me he has done a better job than Hugh Ross too. I’ll have to go back and read it closely, it is on my shelf. Don’t interpret this as an endorsement of the claims in the book, but just saying that I haven’t heard controversy about his claims.

His big mistake, it seems, is that he associated with ID. In my more anti-ID days, I had less sympathy for him. Maybe age is softening me some, but I think it seems more like a shame he made the strategic error. I wish him well and hope he can emerge from hiding when he gets tenure.

Himm, so the only sceintific complaint is that they tolerate YEC arguments? Do you defend all their anti-evolution arguments then? For example, lets take the IC argument. Which Irreducible Complexity? Do you think that argument is valid? (which one?)

I don’t really have an opinion on the irreducibly complex argument. I think the argument may have promise in skillful hands pointing to the right examples, but I also think that sloppy thinking could be problematic.

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Okay, this question really is not a trap. It is really new, and I’m open to see where it goes. What do you think of: Winston Ewert: The Dependency Graph of Life? Just curious how you think about things like this.

I appreciate you drawing my attention to the paper. At first glance it appears this paper is a more sophisticated version of the common design explanation. It will take me a long time to fully digest the paper and the critiques to the paper. But it looks interesting.

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Joshua, don’t you consider it a shame that this paper by Ewert had to be published in an ID journal rather than a mainstream journal?

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