Saturday, May 17, 2008

UD's BS on Miller

Ken Miller is the bane of cdesign proponentsists, a devout Catholic who sees through the BS of Intelligent Design as readily as the most rabid atheist. But their atheist-tainting-evolution strategy is impotent against him, which is why he and other scientists like him were not part of the mockumentary Expelled, which Miller rightly eviscerated.

You would think in the face of such a potent opponent, and one who has made them look like fools in many a debate, the IDers would tread carefully. Guess again. However, we in the reality-based community often note that the best weapon against a creationist is his own mouth, and the rebuttal to Miller is a shining example of that. In it we see all that is wrong with ID, bundled together in a nice little package:

"CLAIM 1: He starts by calling intelligent design “repackaged creationism” that “can’t seem to produce any evidence”: “No data, no science, no experiments, just an attempt to sneak a narrow set of religious views into US classrooms.”

REALITY 1: How does science explain the origin of first life — the cell, which is the only life we know? Does Miller have an evolutionary explanation that requires no recourse to intelligence? The cell contains high-tech machinery. Why isn’t this evidence for design? Is the RNA World about to explain the origin of life? Hardly. Of course there’s evidence for intelligent design — if there weren’t, Miller wouldn’t be spending so much time denying it."

Leave it to the muddled mind of a creationist to ask questions in answer to an evidenciary challenge. This is SOP for them: when challenged to present your evidence, attack science for not having every answer to every question and hope no one notices that you dodged the challenge. Sorry guys, I noticed.

The reasons the "high-tech machinery" of the cell isn’t evidence for design is are legion. First, it is not, strictly speaking, machinery, but rather an arrangement that RESEMBLES machinery in some very limited ways. This is why IDers use doctored illustrations of their favorite "machine", the flagellum, instead of actual photos. The flagellum is not, nor does it look like, a machine. Second, this argument puts the cart of design in front of the horse of a designer. In all legitimate scientific fields which use a design inference, such as forensics and archaeology, knowledge of the designer is a must for identifying design. Third, the IDers have yet to develop an argument, rigorous enough to pass the test of peer review, as to why the mechanisms of evolution are insufficient to account for these machine-like items. Fourth, the slapdash, inefficient, often bafflingly bad (from a design perspective) design we see in nature implies strongly that unintelligent forces were responsible.

"CLAIM 2: “Neither Steinberg [sic — Sternberg?] nor any of the other people featured as martyrs in ‘Expelled’ lost jobs as a result of their advocacy of Intelligent Design.”

REALITY 2: What planet does Miller inhabit? The NCSE and Sternberg’s colleagues at the Smithsonian tried to get his research associate position revoked. They took away his office. They created a hostile work environment. Firing would have been easier than what Sternberg endured (click here). And what about Guillermo Gonzalez — does it count as losing a job not to get tenure when your research deserves it? Does it count not to have your contract renewed — as in the case of Caroline Crocker and William Dembski?"

Notice again the dodge of Miller's claim. Was anyone fired? Apparently not, so Miller is correct. That one might subjectively decide that what did happen was as bad is irrelevant. As it is,
Sternberg abused his position, and slid the ID paper through the process in a subtle, but dishonest manner to allow it to avoid objective peer review. The UD author reveals his lack of familiarity with scientific procedures if he thinks this doesn't warrant a strong reaction. And no, not getting tenure, or having one's contract nonrenewed, both of which happen frequently, does not count. Words mean things.

"CLAIM 3: Miller complains that the movie avoided interviewing all those good evolutionists who also believe in God because “showing a scientist who accepts both God and evolution would have confused their story line.”

REALITY 3: Eugenie Scott of the NCSE is interviewed in the movie, where she touts that religious supporters of evolution are her biggest asset...Yes, it would have confused matters to interview Miller in the film — but only because he is deliberately confusing."

The only person confused here is the UD author. Again, notice the complete dodge of Miller's claim. The person who said inclusion of people like Miller in the film would confuse it was none other than the Expelled Ass. Prod. himself, Mark Mathis. The reason is obvious: Expelled's whole theme is evolution = atheism. Having the Millers and Coynes and Collins of the world in the film would have revealed their lie.

The rest of the piece is similarly dishonest and dodgy, repeating the historically indefensible, absurdly baseless claim that Hitler's Nazis and the extermination of the Jews was all based on Darwin, despite the fact that neither Darwin, nor evolution, appear anywhere in Mein Kampf, that murderous anti-Jewish sentiment predated Darwin by centuries (Luther), and of course that little detail that there is nothing in what Darwin wrote that suggests one should commit genocide. A Darwinian society would simply let the weak perish of their own unfitness, not murder them all.

Oh there's a lot of BS in this article all right, but as usual, it belongs to the cdesign proponentsists, not the targets of their dishonest rhetoric.


alex said...

Hi Science Avenger,
I thought I'd defend the ID guys here against something you wrote(but only barely, believe me.)

"The reasons the "high-tech machinery" of the cell isn’t evidence for design is are legion. First, it is not, strictly speaking, machinery, but rather an arrangement that RESEMBLES machinery in some very limited ways. This is why IDers use /doctored illustrations/ of their favorite "machine", the flagellum, instead of actual photos. The flagellum is not, nor does it look like, a machine. "

Maybe it's unfair to call them /doctored illustrations/ (it makes it sound like /they/ are doctoring them) since the best video I've ever seen of this purported machine was created at a /non/-ID place. At least I'm pretty sure this Japanese site isn't ID. Check out, half way down on the right:

(In case the URL gets cut, here it is again.)

Keep up the good work!

ScienceAvenger said...

I'm not sure I follow your logic. The IDers didn't doctor theirillustrations because someone else made similar looking illustrations? That's like saying the murderer couldn't have used a steak knife because I used such a knife to slice my meal.

The IDers have a well earned reputation for doctoring whatever they need to (quotes, credentials, interviews, scientific phrases, other people's scientific or video work), so when we see them using illustrations that perfectly match their agenda, yet do not perfectly match the science, it is a reasonable conclusion that they have intentionally doctored them. That Japanese scientists may have used similar illustrations for other purposes is irrelevant. Those scientists deserve the benefit of a doubt that the IDers forfeited long ago.