Talk:Intelligent design/Archive 9

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These comments refer the main Wikipedia article titled, "Intelligent Design".

The analogy involving the pyramids of Egypt is misleading in that it does not accurately characterize the theory of Intelligent Design. The analogy is redrawn at the close of this comment. The paragraph that contains that analogy should be edited to read as follows (additions in italics):

The National Academy of Sciences and the National Center for Science Education have described Intelligent Design as pseudoscience. Critics call Intelligent Design an attempt to recast religious dogma as pseudoscience in an attempt to force public schools to teach creationism in schools. Most advocates of Intelligent Design do not support their theory with appeals to religious dogma. That there are theists (see theism) who believe God created the universe has no more bearing on the theory of Intelligent Design than the fact that there are atheists (see atheism) who believe that there is no God has on the theory of Evolution. Both Evolution and Intelligent Design are based on present day observations. Likewise, the fact that some want to teach creationism is schools is not relevant to an examination of the principles of the theory of Intelligent Design. Neither should the theory of Evolution be banned from schools because some atheists claim Evolution proves that there is no God.

Defenders of Evolution say the scientific model of evolution by natural selection has observable and repeatable facts to support it such as the process of mutations, gene flow, genetic drift, natural selection, and speciation. Advocates of Intelligent Design do not dispute the observable and repeatable facts, but note that all such findings to date have been made with respect to changes within a species. The occurrence of small-scale changes in gene frequencies in a population which occur at or below the species level is known as microevolution. There is only speculation that cumulative changes have or can cause a species to morph into a new species. See macroevolution. Evolutionist themselves disagree about the exact mechanism of macroevolution.

Evolutionists also contend that Intelligent Design argues for something that is neither repeatable, nor observable, and therefore violates the scientific requirement of falsifiability which says "Any theory that is not falsifiable is said to be unscientific". Advocates of Intelligent Design apply the same criticism to the theory of macroevolution. Both theories attempt to describe the causes of observations of present day effects. The causes obviously happened in the past and can only be presumed since actual events that happened in the past cannot be observed or repeated. Assumptions must be made; the idea that "the present is the key to the past" is such an assumption. Both theories attempt to answer the question: "How did Life--as it is observed in it's many present forms--come to exist?"

Critics of ID say it is equivalent to the argument "We don't know how the Egyptians could have built the pyramids, therefore aliens (an intelligent designer) must have helped.". Science would simply say "we don't know how the Egyptians built the pyramids", list what is known about Egyptian construction techniques, and leave it at that until new information became available. By creating this outside explanation, Intelligent Design violates another cornerstone of the scientific method called Occam's Razor, creating an entity to explain something that has a simpler and scientifically supported explanation not involving outside help.

Advocates of ID say this analogy is misleading. To accurately characterize ID, the analogy should read as follows: Two scientists, one of whom holds the theory of Evolution, the other the theory of Inteligent Design, discover the pyramids. But, for purposes of the analogy, neither scientist has knowledge of ancient or modern Egyptian culture. Both scientists observe that the pyramids have complexity. The evolutionist attempts to explain the pyramids as something that occurs as the result of natural forces that are observed to occur in the present: unique but accidental geology modified by wind, flood, lightening and erosion over long periods of time. The adherent of Intelligent Design observes that the pyramids have characteristics that are consistent with phenomina that are known to have been designed and engineered by intelligent agents, for example skyscrapers, art and 3-D mathematical images. The Intelligent Design scientist does NOT automatically ascribe the design to "aliens".

You are correct. ID does not AUTOMATICALLY ascribe the design to aliens from another planet. It sits on a convenient place where it says an intelligent designer must have done it, but doesn't go quite so far as to put the "intelligent designer" into any specific form. The advantage is that it avoids the "little green men" version that would get ID laughed out of existence, and it avoids using the word "God" which would reveal its true intent to recast religion into some perveted form of "science". FuelWagon 06:23, 14 May 2005 (UTC)

The critic who originally wrote the main article about Intelligent Design has unfortunately "spun" the facts as well as the pyramids analogy to reinforce belief in evolution and to weaken arguments for Intelligent Design. What he/she has done is to disregard the many published facts about the Intelligent Design theory in an effort to discredit the theory. He/she goes so far as to attribute views to the scientists holding the theory that they do not espouse. Such misrepresentation is unprofessional, unwarranted and injurious to the public debate about a valid issue, namely "How did Life on earth arise?"

The rest of the article should be read in light of the clear bias of the writer.--

Thanks for moving your suggested rewrite of the intro to the talk page. I'd like to point out three items that have nothing to do with your content. 1) Personal attacks vs. the previous author(s) of an article are prohibited in the article. Period. You're joining the author(s) by editing, and they're not allowed to go after you in the article either. 2) The article stands at 18pgs. This is way too much. Adding opinion detail doesn't help. If you're not going to help, don't hit the 'edit' button, no matter how pretty it looks. 3) This is/was the intro, if you insist on keeping these details in the body, move them elsewhere. Then provide a point-counterpoint. Please refer to NPOV for suggestions on how to do this.--ghost 20:07, 12 May 2005 (UTC)
Uhm, the critic who wrote the bit about the pyramids was me. And I wrote it in the "criticism" section of the intro. If you notice, the first paragraph defines ID, the second paragraph defends it, and the third paragraph gives the criticism of ID. So, it would seem to me that the NPOV approach would be to allow both sides to make their best case and leave it to the reader to decide. However, whoever wrote thea original "criticism" section of the intro was obviously strongly pro-ID, or someone who was pro-ID watered it down to the point that the criticism had turned it into a strawman. It was laughable. I was also the person who said this article is WAY too long, and I wrote the intro criticism such that someone could read only the intro, and get the meat of the criticism against ID. I still think its too long, but I'll suffice to write the intro so readers don't need to read further. FuelWagon 22:13, 12 May 2005 (UTC)
I added italics to clarify the differences I have with the original writer. I admit I do not understand Wikipedia's protocol. I doubt that any first time reader will understand it. I do not believe it is fair to expect young researchers to understand Wikipedia's protocol and/or to detect the bias on their own. Either the bias should be removed from the intro or the paragraphs should be clearly labeled Pro and Con. In any case, in the spirit of intellectual honesty, the pyramid analogy should be removed altogether since it is clearly inaccurate. Not yet a wikipedia registered user: G. Jennings, Houston, TX. 13 May 2005.
The "aliens built the pyramids" line of logic is EXACTLY EQUIVALENT to the intelligent designer argument. Both logically assert that something outside the realm of what is known to human science (aliens/ID) created something on earth (pyramids/life). The only difference is that the aliens/pyriamids argument names a specific example of an intelligent designer who created the pyramids rather than leaving it completely undefined the way ID/life does. The thing is that the aliens/pyramids shows the logical fallacy of ID/Life without all the mumbo jumbo associated with trying to explain "burden of proof", falsifiability, and a number of other logical concepts. People can read the "aliens built the pyramids" and immediately GET that its exactly what ID is doing, explaining something on Earth via something that is completely outside human and scientific knowledge. FuelWagon 06:23, 14 May 2005 (UTC)
On the contrary.... No need to shout "EXACT EQUIVALENCE". Evolution itself asserts a mechanism "outside the realm of what is known to human science", a lightening bolt in the primeval soup. ID recognizes the characteristics of design in living orgnisms and says, "in every instance where human science notes these characteristics in a thing, the thing is known to have been designed by intelligence." For example, Wikipedia is a system that displays characteristics of design; likewise the mechanism of human blood clotting is a system that works perfectly to accomplish a specific task. No scientist would look at wikipedia and postulate its existence to random events over a long period of time. Recognition of Design is something that is within the scope of human and scientific knowledge. Not yet a wikipedia registered user: G. Jennings, Houston, TX. 14 May 2005.
Evolution is not something that cannot be observed. Natural selection can be observed in laboratories and in the field. Humans have themselves created numerous new species. The question is whether the evolutionary process can create certain complex structures, like blood clotting. This equivalent to asking if the Egyptians could have built the pyramids. Ultramarine 23:00, 14 May 2005 (UTC)
"Evolution itself asserts a mechanism outside the realm of what is known to human science, a lightening bolt in the primeval soup." Chuckle. So. Lightning bolts are outside the realm of science? I think they've been observed repeatedly, measured, quantified, and catagorized. Is there some metaphysics to lightning bolts that I missed? Lightning gods, perhaps? Same goes for "primeval soup", which would be simple molecules of carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, and nitrogen. Is there something about this chemistry that is outside the realm of science? Don't they generally teach organic chemistry in college as a science requisite? I'm pretty sure it isn't listed in with the "religious studies" classes or besides the "defense against the Dark arts" courses. FuelWagon 02:47, 16 May 2005 (UTC)

Well, I guess FuelWagon disagrees with my edit, but my reasons for moving the pyramid analogy were:

  1. Yes, the intro seems a bit long.
  2. The pyramid analogy seems more like an elaboration, not a concise summary. I thought an explanation like that would do better in an appropriate section rather than nested with a bunch of small, bullet-point style summaries.
  3. Starting off the article with a controversial analogy like that seemed needlessly inflamatory. I'm by no means an Intelligent Design supporter, but even I thought it was a bit over the top in that position.
  4. I don't see any "weakening" of the intro. On the contrary, it seemed to flow better and say the same thing.

As it stands, we seem to have two copies of the same analogy now. I obviously lean toward removing the one in the intro, but I won't make the edit myself since it's obvious that at least one person seems to strongly disagree with me. TheIncredibleEdibleOompaLoompa 22:25, 2005 May 16 (UTC)

This was my take on the criticism of ID paragraph in the intro: the concepts of "repeatability and observability" are put into real world examples with the list about mutations, genetic drift, etc. The example of how repeatability and observability fail to apply to ID is given in how the "designer" is neither observable nor repeatable. This then defines the term "falsifiability" by giving the definition first and then putting a name to it. The concept of occam's razor is first defined by the real world example of aliens/pyramids. Then the scientific approach is given by explaining science would say "we don't know how they did it, but this is what we do know". Finally, with all of this context given, the definition is complete and it is given the name "occam's razor". if you take out the alien/pyramid example, you remove the real world example that puts occam's razor into real world context. If you take out the real world example, you have to take out the "what science would say", and if you take both of those out, you have absolutely no real world context, and must define "occam's razor" with a mumble jumble of vocabulary. I attempted to shorten the criticism paragraph in the intro. Some folks took out the alien/pyramid bit and attempted to explain occam's razor with complicated vocabulary, which was just as long but much more complicated to read. My problem is that I think the entire article is way too long, and rather than take a machete to the whole thing and tick everyone off, I wanted to get the core criticism in one paragraph in the intro in as simple language as possible. as it is now, I think it sums up the criticism of ID fairly succinctly. If length is really an issue, start cutting the rest of the article. FuelWagon 05:10, 17 May 2005 (UTC)
"controversial analogy like that seemed needlessly inflamatory" Sorry, missed this the first time. Yeah, it's a controversial analogy. But so is the accusation that ID violates Occam's Razor. It's just that aliens/pyramids is a real world example of Occam's Razor being violated, and by itself, the term "Occam's Razor" simply goes over people's heads. If people "got" Occam's Razor, then being told you're violating it would be a controversial assertion. In the end, this controversial analogy, this violation of Occam's Razor, is a fair representation of the critic's point of view of ID. ID supporters won't like it, but then emperical scientists won't like ID. the point of wikipedia is to not avoid controversy at the expense of losing honesty in the article or watering down the truth. FuelWagon 05:16, 17 May 2005 (UTC)

Losing honesty? Watering down? I don't want to remove the analogy! I don't even want to edit the analogy. I just want to move it to a better place. As it stands there are two copies of the analogy in the article, and it seems like there are three choices: 1) Leave the article sounding strange, redundant and highly antagonistic. 2) Remove the analogy from the Argument from Ignorance section, weakening it significantly. 3) Remove the analogy from the intro, greatly improving the section's flow, attitude/hostility, readability and length. I understand what you're trying to do putting an example prior to Occam's Razor. Unfortunately, the attempt at parallelism fails because (unlike the falsifiability bit which is succint, simple, and a single complete sentence) the Occam's Razor section is wordy, needlessly detailed for an intro and spread out across several sentences which breaks the continuity of the paragraph. The "needlessly detailed" point is particularly important because by introducing this level of criticism into the introduction, the article gains an axe-grinding feel to it. I'm not asking if the analogy is a fair representation; remember, I included it in the new section! I'm simply saying it's inappropriate and awkward there. I don't think anyone could fail to understand Occam's Razor from the simple, plain English explanation given after the word, but if they did they could always just click the link. Even if that's a problem, I tend to think that the problems with the intro as it stands outweigh it. TheIncredibleEdibleOompaLoompa 17:41, 2005 May 17 (UTC)

I don't know if I'd use the phrase "axe grinding". It might qualify for "brutal honesty". If the problem is the "needlessly detailed" part, then lemme see if I can come up with a less detailed version. gimme a few hours to chew on it. FuelWagon 19:24, 17 May 2005 (UTC)
Well, I tried a rewrite. I split it into two paragraphs. first paragraph is the list of criticism against ID. Second paragraph uses the example of aliens/pyramids to show how those criticisms apply. It also clarifies that science doesn't rule out an intelligent designer, just that it makes no claim about its existence. Perhaps that will clarify that there is no "axe grinding" going on. An intelligent designer may exist, but science cannot state that as fact. But science is not anti-god. Science might be anti-rain-god and use meteorology to explain weather patterns. But science does not rule out anything, it only rules "in" what it knows. It's the best I can do right now. If that don't work, then I'll just revert to the way it was before. What say you, Oompa? keep it or kick it? Is it an improvement or did I make it worse? FuelWagon 21:45, 17 May 2005 (UTC)
After reading the first of those two paragraphs, a reader supporting ID but who doesn't understand the distinction between "science" and "truth" might assume that the paragraph means "ID is false." The impression we want them to gain is that the paragraph says "ID is outside the realm of science" or somesuch. Would it be useful to tack on another sentence to that effect, along the lines of "However, this does not mean that ID is false—only that it is not within the scope of science."? One-dimensional Tangent (Talk) 23:14, 17 May 2005 (UTC)
the only problem with that is that proponents of ID have packaged it as a science so that it can be taught in schools without violating separation of church and state. That is the basis for their argument: that it qualifies as science. But the only way to do that is to redefine science so as to not require observability, repeatability, falsifiability, and to allow breaking Occam's Razor. If you do that, then ID qualifies, but you've completely destroyed the definition of science to mean whatever someone wants it to mean. FuelWagon 23:59, 17 May 2005 (UTC)
Erm. Well, I'm not proposing to call it science—I'm saying that it isn't science (although perhaps the wording I used doesn't convey that as well as I would have liked). Since the paragraph already says that much, I didn't figure that a reiterration would hurt anything. Actually, all I meant to add was that we're not making any assertion about the truth or falsity of the issue. There is an unfortunate tendency for some people, when they hear "that's not science", to think they heard "that's not true". (This is a reflection on the common but mistaken notion that scientists believe everything not 'science' to be false.) Anyway, I don't object to not including such a sentence, and it's not strictly on-topic. I only offered it as a way to assuage some gut protests. One-dimensional Tangent (Talk) 00:33, 18 May 2005 (UTC)
That is something that could go in a criticism section. FuelWagon 02:39, 18 May 2005 (UTC)

I'm still not sure the into is the appropriate place, but your recent edit sounds a lot better, FuelWagon. Still not sure what to do about the two versions of the analogy, but I guess I'll leave it. I've used up my complaint quota for the next week or so I think. I like your commented out section, by the way. :) TheIncredibleEdibleOompaLoompa 03:23, 2005 May 18 (UTC)

One epistemology out of many

Like some have mentioned, the debate between ID and naturalism is mostly one of methodology, and anyone who has ever taken a day of philosophy knows that first principles cannot be falsified. Naturalism restricts its methodology to one that tries to find things in naturalistic terms and deems that only that is truth. You can't infer the epistemological validity of naturalism merely from its premises, and the tautology naturalism = science, science = naturalism really doesn't have any foundational weight to it. Naturalism is a *particular* theory of knowledge that when combined with the 'randomness' principle, is pretty darn unfalsifiable. If anything 'happens', then it is due to natural causes and no matter how outrageous it is, we just think about all the places in the world where it *didn't* happen. Then it's not so strange or unbelievable no matter how it affects our experience. Sure, things within the scope of the methodology can be tested, but one cannot challenge its domain nor the theory itself.

Personally, I am an agnostic when it comes to I.D. versus natural evolution, I am not a scientist so I do not know, but I do know a thing or two about the philosophy of science and the general period of history called 'the enlightenment' and I have to say that most scientists are just completely ignorant about the philosophy of their own discipline and don't understand where the methodological debates start and stop. They simply believe dogmatically in the science = naturalism tautology and due to the history of science (always percieved as the secular enlightenment battling the religious aristotelian world) an actually experienced history of science vs. religion has resulted in alot of sadly closed minds.Trylo 22:16, 25 May 2005 (UTC)

I am a scientist. I am also a bit of a philosopher. My take on the skepticism of science is that it fits very nicely with the the philosophy of Taoism or "the way" of the universe. One of the most relevant quotes from Tao de Ching is "that which can be named is not the Tao", which to me reads like a recipe for the perfect division between human knowledge/science and human spirituality. Science does not rule out spirituality, but science is all about what humans can know, and the spirituality of the universe is not something that science will ever say anything about. So, if you want to call ID a philosophy or a spiritual understanding of how life started on earth, that's fine by me. But I refuse to allow the definitions of science and spirituality to be blurred and confused so that someone can get their pet philosophy taught in schools as if it were science. FuelWagon 14:00, 23 May 2005 (UTC)

Fair enough, that seems like a understandable way of looking at it. But still, it is basically the case of a dominant majority trying to 'define out' other disciplines. I don't know if anyone here does International Relations but some of the methodological debates go like this and I think it is a good parallel to the I.D. vs Natural Evolution debate.
Traditional international relations is based on the understanding that it is great powers (i.e., big countries) that determine everything in the international system. Local forces can only have agency when they are used by great powers.
Now, there are other methodologies that try to study the 'international' too. Instead though, they reject the idea of the primacy of great powers, and try to explain things in other terms like local/global flows and immigration, etc.
The newcomers claim that I.R. doesn't actually explain how the world really works because there are too many assumptions packed into the positivist methodology, and in fact it just goes on supporting a kind of knowledge that only suits the strong.
The traditional I.R. proponents claim that whatever doesn't deal with states and statesmen isn't I.R., it should know its place and get back to literary criticism or what not.
The real issue is, both claim to describe something that is at one level the same ("the international") but at another level completely different. The one who wins is the one that can claim that their interpretation is the real one and the other one is if not completely invalid, not what it claims to be.
So I.D. and Natural Evolution both claim to be the same thing (science) but what methodology and epistemology that entails, and effectively what science is, is being disputed.
The thing I find so frusturating about this debate is that both sides are so rigid and inflexible. You have the traditionalists pretending the heyday of the enlightenment is still with us, and you have the I.D.'s acting like it's plainly obvious that darwinism is invalid to anyone with a brain. As a non-scientist, as someone who cannot actually weigh the evidence without reading an incredibly biased piece of pop-science, I find it incredibly irritating.Trylo 22:16, 25 May 2005 (UTC)
From my point of view, you seem to be misconstruing what science is. Science isn't a "dominant majority" that excludes all other interpretations. Science is a minimilist approach: start out knowing nothing, assume very little, and see what you can know from there. Science does not exclude spirituality. It does have as one of its primary assumptions the notion that the world follows certain rules and that those rules don't change. This is diametrically opposed to folks who believe in an active god reaching into human lives and altering reality, creating Adam from dust, Eve from a rib, flooding the planet, parting the red sea, bringing a plaque of locusts, frogs, and then killing the first born of every family. These beliefs are unscientific, and on that basis, science will not budge. Science does not believe the gods make it rain. Science must at its foundation assume that the world-rules are consistent, that god does not play dice with the universe at this level. If that rule falls, then there is no difference between science and the mythology of the day. But if you take that assumption as true, that does not rule out spirituality, a belief in God, Plato's unmoved mover, or the Tao of the universe. It just means that science will hit a point where it says "we don't know but we refuse to jump to any conclusions or submit to mythology". The Earth is not 6,000 years old. Science refuses to budge on this. But Science does not rule out that which is not in its domain, and God and Spirituality are outside the domain of science. FuelWagon 13:57, 24 May 2005 (UTC)
But the methodology decides what can be known, and the methodology is determined a-priori... What I am saying is is it is a particular theory of knowledge that determines what be be counted as true knowledge to draw conclusions off of. "Science" doesn't just take every random bit of information out there and compiles it all into a theory, it sorts and defines in/defines out valid and invalid data. Science is informed inductively by data, I'm with you there, but the validity of the methodology/epistemology itself cannot be inductively verified, you have to start with a first principle like 'the only true knowledge humans can possess is that recieved by the five senses' (Empiricism)
If you think that the methodology/epistemology itself can be proven inductively, then I'd really like to see how... The closest to a proof that you can get is pragmatism, which basically says that if something is knowledge, then it works, it is powerful. I.e., St. Teresa of Avilla loses out to Mr. Nobel because dynamite blows things up and prayers don't. By the way, I found this website that has alot of pros and cons. Trylo 22:16, 25 May 2005 (UTC)
I think you're still misconstruing science here: "it is a particular theory of knowledge that determines what be be counted as true". Science doesn't deal with "truth" in the philosophical sense or in the spiritual sense. When you are present to the Tao (or God or Buddha), you a present to Truth. Science is about human knowledge and that is different from "Truth". One of the main differences is that Truth is an internal process, knowing god, being one with the way, achieving enlightenment. Knowledge as produced by science is public or external or practical or whatever you want to call it. If by "powerful" you mean "able to affect others", then yes, that is the difference between knowledge and truth. You cannot force someone into Satori. You can build a nuclear weapon and vaporize them. Science will tell you how to build that bomb, but not whether it is "right" to use it. This is the definition of science, and it is unmovable. It acknowledges the difference between knowledge and truth, between objective and subjective. It requires repeatability and observability. It assumes the universe operates under the influence of an unchanging Tao. And it attempts to understand how that Tao shows up in the objective universe. Science makes no claims about truth or god or the experience of love. That definition gives a certain set of results that are defined as "scientific knowledge", and some of the basic assumptions cannot be proven (such that there shall be no god messing with the rules of the universe). But the philisophical alternative is to logically argue yourself into a corner, knowing nothing with certainty, leaving the experience of subjectivity and objective world as possible illusions and knowing only that you exist in some form. But solipsism just doesn't cut it for me. If only you exist, then you won't mind if I, a mere illusion, adhere to objective science, if you know what I mean. Are we really stuck in Plato's Cave or some version of The Matrix? maybe. But so what? Until we can become aware and distinguish what is shadow and what is "real", this is the world we have to go on. It is from this world of illusion that we've pulled ourselves up to where we are now. Perhaps someone will eventually notice the fire and the figures casting shadows. Until then, science only says what it knows about those shadows. The truth that we're in Plato's Cave is only something you can know in your mind. Escape from the Matrix is only available once you become aware in your mind that the matrix exists. Truth is in your mind. FuelWagon 23:02, 25 May 2005 (UTC)
So you're basically saying 'science' doesn't use an epistemology, but it is about human knowledge. My whole point is that what can count as human knowledge is what the question of epistemology deals with. I'm not referring to truth that humans can't know about, matrixes or anything regarding something you might find in Heidegger or Laozi. I'm referring to good old fasioned eurocentric concepts of truth, as in, what can humans know about.
I think you're dodging an answer. I say that the epistemology called empiricism is at least questionable because it itself is not empirically viable. You can't prove that empiricism is true by looking at the objects that it allows to count as knowledge, it has to be an a-priori principle. Is this true or false? What say you? Anyone else have an answer? 12:06, 26 May 2005 (UTC)
Sorry, if someone says "truth" and "philosophy" in the same sentence, I hear "Truth", as in absolute. As far as I can see, you're talking about "Truth". I've dodged no question, I just might have not answered it in your vocabulary. Yes, empericism has certain assumptions which cannot be verified by empericism. But those assumptions are known up front. that the world-rules are constant is a basic assumption that cannot be proven inside empericism. It has to be taken as an assumption. I don't have a problem with that. If the assumption is that the world-rules CAN change, because god intervenes now and then, then how many angels fits on the head of a pin becomes a legitimate scientific question, and I won't stand for that to be called science.
I'm not exactly sure where you're trying to take this conversation. I know of no approach to knowledge which is absolutely true. If there were, much of philosophy would disappear. Attempting to find absolute truth often leads people to the path of solipsism (I exist) or total skepticism (I know only that I can know nothing). Neither of which are views I can subscribe to. I need more than what absolute human knowledge can currently give, so I'm willing to make a few basic assumptions and run with it from there. The way I see it, this is a vast improvement over the previous approach of making a LOT of assumptions and running with THAT. Does it answer everything? no. But from an incremental point of view, meteorology is a hell of a lot better than praying to the Rain Gods. FuelWagon 14:31, 26 May 2005 (UTC)
I just realized something. When you compare the epistomologies used by empirical science versus "intelligent design", what you have are two epistomologies that are identical except for the assumption added by ID. ID claims it is "science" which means it must rely on assumptions, and therefore cannot be shown to be true with absolute certainty. The assumption added by ID is that the world rules of the universe are constant and unchanging, EXCEPT when God intervenes from time to time. So, comparing those two epistimologies side by side, it would seem clear to me that as far as "knowing" is concerned, science has a better chance than ID does of knowing teh truth. FuelWagon 18:43, 26 May 2005 (UTC)
  • shrug* Well I guess we're just arguing cross purposes then. But yeah, actually you are right in one respect, theistic epistemologies don't make claims to absolute knowledge, that's why Descartes was able to make mechanism (sort of like the intellectual precursor to empiricism/naturalism) what it is today, because it could beat the kind of open ended questions that theistic epistemologies by definition had to leave open- so, by claiming to be a "perfect philosophy" (i.e., complete) materialism does actually offer more obstensible truth because it clearly defines what can be known and works well within its sphere. But of course going back to the original point, it's horribly complicated and involves alot of a-priori assumptions. Without foundations (i.e., knock down drag-out reasons for any given epistemology being true apparent to anyone), then it's all a matter of who has the interpretive power. I only got six hours of sleep last night so this might not be too clear. 13:18, 27 May 2005 (UTC)
"it's horribly complicated and involves alot of a-priori assumptions." Well, "horribly" and "alot" are subjective, and you have a right to your opinion. My opinion is that there is really only one fundamental assumption in science: that the world-rules of the universe are unchanging. From that, you get scientific requirements for repeatability/observability, falsifiability, and even Occam's Razor. But other than differing on the percieved level of complexity of that approach, we agree on everything else. FuelWagon 13:44, 27 May 2005 (UTC)

flawed design section should stay on topic

Re: this edit. In the section Ideas regarding the intelligent designer we have a short list of general, high-level flaws in design. The intention of this section is not to be a detailed list of inefficient designs found in nature. Reverting change. --Air 09:44, 26 May 2005 (UTC)

Rescued deleted material

The first and most important principle of Intelligent Design is that science at the end of the 20th century saw itself as being methodologically materialistic (or naturalistic) as opposed to methodologically empiricalistic. And as a result of being methodologically materialistic, biologists embraced macro-evolution as the explanation for the existence and diversity of life because an explanation that infers intelligence is not permitted by this paradigm.

ID theorists observe that forensic and archeological science, on the other hand, is methodologically empirical, and allow for explanations that include intelligence. Forensic science by determining whether or not a particular death is an accident or a murder, and archeology by determining whether or not a specific hunk of clay was an artifact or not. Since the study of biological origins is historical, ID theorists suggest that the issue should likewise be treated empirically, since we are like detectives coming upon the scene after the supposed crime occured. Our task, then, is to determine whether or not there was an intelligence behind all this, not only to try to find the best naturalistic explanation assuming there was no intelligence.

Intelligent design makes no presumptions about who or what did the designing. It simply asks whether we can empirically determine if a particular thing was designed or not. In terms of religion, ID favors none. The designer of the first cell could just as easily be Zeus, Odin, Krishna, Jehovah, a pantheistic God, an intelligent extra-terrestrial, or Plato's demiurge. The only question ID seeks to answer is whether there was a designer or not.

Specifically, ID theorists are investigating the concepts of irreducible complexity and specified complexity. Irreducibly complex structures are ones that seem improbable to evolve and therefore are highly probable to have been created by an intelligent designer or designers. ID theories of irreducibly complexity have been criticised of taking Darwinism too narrowly because it assumes that natural selection would work directly (or linearly).

Rescued. Agree with removal as POV and aditional verbage, but it still Must Be Discussed.--Tznkai 00:21, 27 May 2005 (UTC)

I think it's relevant... but that's because I wrote it. The idea came straight from Dembski's latest book (The Design Revolution) where he spends a good chunk on defining what ID is and what it is not. I would like to see the article rewritten with more input from this book (since he is arguably the conceptual leader of ID) and as I mentioned below I think it is only fair to spend the bulk of the article presenting what ID is according to the ID theorists, and relegating the (significant and definitely article-worthy) controversy to a section at the end with the appropriate links. The evolution article is presented as what evolution is to the evolutionists with the controversy minimized and buried at the bottom. What's good for the goose, is good for the gander.
David Bergan 05:46, 28 May 2005 (UTC)

Are lengthy criticisms in the intro fair?

I won't hide the fact that I'm on the ID side, but I assure you that I am only trying to make the article fair. Take a look at the evolution article and you'll find that the criticisms of evolution are very consise and all the way at the bottom of the page. I like the layout of that page... it seems like an appropriate encyclopedia article.

However, the ID article is laden with critiques. You only get to the third paragraph of the introduction before you engage hostility. I would think that someone who wants to read an article on ID (or any topic) would want to hear its position all the way through before hearing that it is a pseudoscience and that it is criticized from all possible angles. That's significant information, for sure, but shouldn't it all be contained in the controversy section? I mean, it would be laughable to read the evolution page and find in the 3rd paragraph Behe's idea of irreducible complexity. I'm not asking to remove criticisms. I just think that it's the spirit of an encyclopedia article to conatin criticism in one consise section and put it at the bottom.

David Bergan 17:20, 27 May 2005 (UTC)

I think from the point of view of defining what ID is and is not, putting in emerical science's take on ID clearly helps define ID. And an entire article of ID proponents calling ID a science, with a follow-up section by emperical scientists saying "no, it isn't" seems like burying important information. FuelWagon 19:54, 27 May 2005 (UTC)
Fair enough... but a full paragraph in the intro? I mean, we're not just saying that there is little support in the scientific community, we're bringing in Occam's razor and teaching them 6 vocab words about modern evolution theory. How about a two-sentence paragraph that says something like, "Intelligent Design theory has only gained marginal acceptance in scientific circles. See Section X for further details about its criticisms." Something along those lines would be honest and fair, and in keeping with the spirit of an encyclopedia article... actually explaining the title concept before attacking it.
David Bergan 05:58, 28 May 2005 (UTC)
The current level of detail in the intro is appropriate. The terms it introduces are essential to understanding the reason why scientists are so uniform and adamant in their rejection of ID (e.g., a recent issue of the ultra-prestigious journal Nature dedicated to ID [1]). Because rejection of ID is the consensus scientific (and scholarly) viewpoint, it is essential to explain this in the intro. --Rikurzhen 07:26, May 28, 2005 (UTC)
Yes, you are absolutely right that ID is certainly the minority position among scientists. (So was Darwin's research at his time...) But count the sentences. If anyone wanted to know what ID is, they read our intro and find that we have 3 sentences that (sort of) explain what ID is, and then we have 8 that criticize it. I don't care what the topic is, no one knows a subject well enough to evaluate counter-arguments after only 3 sentences of explanation. Show me 3 other articles that aren't related to the evolution controversy where the title concept is thoroughly criticized (and ridiculed) before it is even adequately explained.
Moreover, those three sentences aren't even very accurate. ID is an attempt to establish a branch of science that determines whether or not things we observe in nature are caused by intelligence rather than by natural laws or random chance. It is an application of ID when forensic scientists try to determine whether a housefire was caused by accident (law or chance) or by arson (intelligence). But the reader doesn't get any of this out of the intro.
David Bergan 15:28, 28 May 2005 (UTC)
  • I'm sorry, but your above point is simply wrong. ID is not about creating a meta-branch of science involved in determining whether any action or event anywhere was caused by intelligent or intentional action. Arson investigation is not an application of ID. ID is concerned with the creation and development of life and animal species (especially humans) and by extension the creation and development of the universe, galaxy, solar systems and planets. Claiming that forensics is an example of ID theory is disingenuous at best. Soundguy99 16:36, 28 May 2005 (UTC)
  • Bergan makes some good points, and your slightly wordier version of "No, it's not" is not really a rebuttal, even if you think it is. Pollinator 17:03, May 28, 2005 (UTC)
No, to build an analogy to ID, you'd claim that from the evidence for a buring building that aliens or God started the fire. --Rikurzhen 17:22, May 28, 2005 (UTC)
Uhm no, it is arrogant to proclaim that human beings are the only intelligence to have ever existed in causal history. This is an underlying assumption when it comes to explaining lifes causal history. It is unscientific to say that ID is unscientific if the designers were naturally pre-existant in a way science can not yet explain but may (or may not) be ultimately able to explain. i.e. we design things, and we design life forms all the time and a scientific and historical account of our artifacts could be done by another intelligent species. It is equally superstitious to say the actions of the water, wind and the sun, chemistry and physical laws given enough time are capable causes of creating my car or DVD player. This is what's at issue with ID - the question is, is life fundamentally technology, and if technology the only things in nature that are capable of making technology are intelligences, no one has proved physical laws can create sophisticated machines. BIG DIFFERENCE.--Not yet registered
Actually, there is research being done on precisely the topic of complexity arising from natural, adaptational processes. See Cellular Automata and Aliens Invade East Lansing. The use of genetic algorithms is also relevant. It is arguably untrue that no one has "proved" physical laws can create sophisticated machines: although the particular phrasing begs some parsing, complexity has been demonstrated to arise from very simple rules/laws, and research that attempts to take advantage of ascendant natural complexity generally presuppose evolutionary processes.
"It is unscientific to say that ID is unscientific if the designers were naturally pre-existant in a way science can not yet explain" Wow. So, we are now redefining "science" to mean "predict anything you wish as long as someday it can be proven true"? How about this instead: ID is unscientific because it relies on a LACK of direct observation of cause. Science observes something happening, takes a guess at the cause, and then either proves or disproves it via repeated observation of that cause occurring. Every time you run an electrical current through water, it breaks down into hydrogen and oxygen. ID observes stuff, but they don't observe a cause, they observe stuff and don't see a cause, and then jump to the conclusion that some outside intelligence was the cause. This "conclusion" is unobservable and unrepeatable, and so ID is unscientific. FuelWagon 17:32, 6 Jun 2005 (UTC)
It is still an arrogant and unsubstantiated assumption that human beings are the only intelligence to have ever existed in causal history of the universe. Also the artificial rule that the designers must be extra-terrestrial intelligences that must have evolved via darwinian evolution is just as unscientific, since that type of evolution would only apply to our kind of life. The fact is the properties of the designed artifacts exist independently of the designers. The fact is if we all died tomorrow some other intelligent species came across our planet they could scientifically detect which patterns of matter were the result of agency and which were not, this is the central issue. It's not superstition versus science, it's science versus science. Either way the fact that life has been proven to be machines and not simpler chemical reactions gives scientific evidence of design whether your personal philosophy acknowledges it or not. The designer doesn't have to be present and [b]observed[/b] doing the designing to infer design. debunks such a claim that we cannot detect intelligently designed objects that are not of human origin. Again, science can observe the properties of patterns that matter takes, and it's these properties that tell us whether the faces of Mt. Rushmore was designed or whether it was the action of erosion. The OP still had a point: First principles are unfalsifiable, you could study how a car engine works and claim it works on natural principles, but you still can't explain the origin of the car or the engine without an appeal to both natural laws and intelligent agency. The equation is Intelligence agency + stochastic processes = artifact nature cannot produce. Unless you would like to claim that natural laws minus intelligence are capable of producing things like CPU's, DVD's or any modern technology without intelligence. The "Nature by proxy" defense doesn't count, because a causal history of human artifacts by an unbiased (human or non-human) observer, still necessitates a theory of agency to accurately and scientifically describe the history of our artifacts. Look I'm not sympathetic to religious creationist, but ID goes far beyond religion their's a rich history of intellectual discussion around such topics. The fact that life would turn out to be technology was not expected or predicted by evolutionary theory in the slightest, and although I believe the possibility of life is ID of life is remote, the fact is it has never been explored in a scientific fashion. Conflating religion with non-specific creation or any kind of non religious intelligent design doesn't do anyone any favors here. For any object that exists there is only two explanations 1) It was constructed or 2) It evolved. There are only two and since no one has adequately answered such questions without inherent contradictions or accepting of unfalsifiable first principles on both sides, it seems the only rational way to find out is to explore both. Since reverse engineering any of our artifacts does not entail the rejection of naturalism, so ID would have little effect on how science is done, but only in the end interpretation and more rigorous categorization of causes and their capabilities.
I think that the fourth paragraph in the intro should be removed. It is a counter-argument, not an introduction to the subject. That said, I pretty much disagree with Bergan on every other point, including his assumption that ID should be treated as if it were a fresh-faced scientific hypothesis rather than a transparently socio-political strategy. --goethean 16:53, 28 May 2005 (UTC)
treating ID "as if it were a fresh-faced scientific hypothesis" is not a possible alternative; it has been closely examined by the scientific community and those findings have been made public; moveover, ID isn't fresh at all, it's a very old hypothesis with slightly some arguments. --Rikurzhen 17:22, May 28, 2005 (UTC)
However, I agree that, while the arguments should certainly not be "buried down at the bottom", they needn't be as lengthly as they are in this introduction. Introductions aren't about arguing one side or the other — they're for introducing the subject. The fact that ID isn't accepted by the scientific community should certainly be discussed in the intro, but two long paragraphs making arguments against ID aren't needed. — Asbestos | Talk 17:35, 28 May 2005 (UTC)
I made those recent "anon" (user 68) changes to the intro. I recognize that the intro section is under discussion and I haven't been looking at this article for a while, but I hope you all will consider my revision nonetheless; it ain't perfect, but I think it clearly improves on the existing version, addresses the concerns expressed here, and removes redundency. I am disappointed to see that it was reverted in minutes, before anyone got a chance to look at it. BTfromLA 17:38, 28 May 2005 (UTC)
I think your condensation was good, and replaced it. Also, the article is now at the stylistic standard of not having a second "introduction" (the one above the table of contents, without a heading, is all that is needed). However, making sweeping changes under an anon IP is a sure-fire way to get reverted, so you shouldn't have been suprised... — Asbestos | Talk 17:48, 28 May 2005 (UTC)
I support this change also --goethean 17:50, 28 May 2005 (UTC)

As an evolutionary biologist, I view ID's growing popularity as somewhat alarming. After all, it's amazing that such a groundless and hollow theory could gain such potestas, just like it was similarly alarming to me that so many people believed the equally hollow claims of the Bush administration regarding Iraq/WMD. But I don't think this is sufficient reason for putting strong claims in place in the article, or justifying article structure, and I worry that that sort of passion gets in the way. That said, we should treat ID the same way we treat Bush WMD claims - that is, give a fair description, but be clear, unequivocal and prominent about why they are wrong. There's no need to allow relativity of facts here. What's important is not that it isn't accepted by the scientific community (cf. Bush claims weren't accepted by the international community), but that it is not a sound scientific theory. This should be clearly understood by all readers of the article. Graft 17:47, 28 May 2005 (UTC)

BTfromLA's changes go far beyond what I think is being discussed here. They completely delete the pyramid analogy, which is very instructive/understandable and needs to be kept (somewhere prominently) as it describes why the scientific community finds that ID is not an sound scientific theory. It presents the ID debate as a series of ad hominem attacks, which is not the key quality. Move those changes to the talk page for debate and restore the previous article content. --Rikurzhen 17:54, May 28, 2005 (UTC)

The pyramid analogy is contentious and its main purpose seems to be to ridicule the claims of ID. It is inappropriate to the intro. --goethean 17:57, 28 May 2005 (UTC)
Because you and others don't like the analogy, or find it unfair to ID, doesn't make it inappropriate for the intro. A controversial topic will tend to have a controversial intro. I'm a scientist (in the field of genetics; i.e. I know evolution) and in my opinion the analogy is apt and informative. It is elicits in others exactly what I and other scientists think of when we consider ID. If there was anything I would want to put into the intro, it would be the that the NAS (group of elite scientists) has spoken out against ID for reasons x,y,z and that their reasoning can be understood by the pyramid analogy. --Rikurzhen 18:11, May 28, 2005 (UTC)
Rikurzhen, I am not a scientist and I will happily defer to you on the details of evolutionary theory. I am a writer, however, and I think you've lost track of the structure of the article. ( I also think it inappropriate of you to do a wholesale revert of my edit after multiple editors had found it meritorious.) The substance of the various arguments belong in the main body of the article, not the introduction. If you are going to offer a refutation of the claims, you'll first need to offer an elaborate description of those claims, and at that point you've completely abandoned the idea of a concise introduction, and quite possibly lost your reader. The edit you rejected makes it clear that ID's claims are not respected by most scientists and also makes it clear that a political and religious agenda is attached to the ID movement—I don't think you can argue that it promotes a pro-ID POV. It briefly introduces the central claims and controversies that attend to ID, with more detailed discussions below. That's what an introduction should do, right? BTfromLA 21:47, 28 May 2005 (UTC)
I don't think that the analogy is unfair, nor do I think that noting the movement's criticisms is inappropriate. However, the current introduction is not an introduction, it's a thesis. It is specifically set out to prove a point. This, though, isn't the purpose of an introduction. BTfromLA's introduction indicates in no uncertain terms that the movement has no approval from the scientific community. However, it doesn't spend two paragraphs describing the arguments in detail - that is saved for the article's body.
I hadn't realized before that the changes deleted the pyramid analogy. You say that it needs to be kept. That's fine: find an appropriate place for it. The introduction isn't an appropriate place.
I also think that unilateral revertion is not an appropriate way of dealing with the argument, given that at least three editors are supporting the new introduction, while you are the only one who has raised an objection.
[Edit conflict: I see that BTfromLA has said much the same thing above. I'll leave my message anyway...]
Asbestos | Talk 21:58, 28 May 2005 (UTC)
I took the liberty of restoring most of the deleted material (including the pyramids analogy) to the section describing the Scientific rejection of ID. I think the Pyramid part retains an NPOV tone: the way to get around that might be to find the same or a similar analogy from a prominent scientist or science writer, so that Wikipedia doesn't seem to be the author of the analogy. There's been plenty written about ID, so that probably isn't a such tall order--I'd bet that Richard Dawkins, for example, has probably authored several pithy analogies along those lines. BTfromLA 22:09, 28 May 2005 (UTC)

A number of points --Rikurzhen 22:35, May 28, 2005 (UTC)

  1. wikipedia is not a democracy, it's an encyclopedia. the opinions of the authors do not matter, so much as the opinions of all the people in the world. it wouldn't matter if every wikipedia editor were pro-ID, the NPOV policy would require that the POV of mainstream science, central to this article, be described in their its own terms, prominently.
  2. nonetheless, I count at least three authors that seem to support a prominent place for the scientists argument about science, not politics, in the article. this is because scientist are experts about science, and not politics, and so the POV of mainstream science should most prominently reflect matters of science and not politics. BTfromLA's intro sounds like a description of the mainstream science POV from a pro-ID position, which is why I oppose it
  3. I'm offering my opinion, having just seen this intro, that the pyramid analogy is an excellent didactic tool; it is a near perfect analogy from the POV of a scientist -- it is so apt it deserves a prominent place
  4. I don't think a didactic tool, like a novel analogy, constitues original research; otherwise Wikipedia would have to consisit only of quotations and references. As a picture is worth a thousand words, so too this analogy explains a lot in a little space.
  5. I am voting that the space reserved in the intro for the POV of mainstream science include the two paragraphs more or less as I had found them

Can you be more specific about the pro-ID position that you detect in the current edit? BTfromLA 23:04, 28 May 2005 (UTC)

The emphasis on questions of bias/goals rather than science casts the debate in terms favored by pro-ID people. That's fine when describing pro-ID POVs, but not good when describing anti-ID POVs. It makes it sound like the main arugments scientists have against ID involve name-calling. This may be a tactic they have resorted to, but it is not their primary or fundamental response. --Rikurzhen 23:21, May 28, 2005 (UTC)
In case that's not clear. The claims from scientists of bias come after ID advocates adhere to their position despite public refutation of the science. So to highlight discourse on bias makes it seem as if scientists are concerned with politics rather than science. --Rikurzhen 23:41, May 28, 2005 (UTC)
I disagree that the intro sounds remotely pro-ID, and I think the ID movement is as ridiculous as it comes (just to state my own POV). I can't see how you find the focus of the intro to be on bias/goals. The focus is on 1) What ID argues, 2) Criticism of ID, 3) A brief discussion on the politics of ID.
All three of these are important. Clearly, a discussion on the politics of ID is relevent, because ID was pushed mainly as a means of getting creationism around politics and the courts. If it weren't for politics and the courts, ID wouldn't be being pushed, creationism would.
What you keep wanting to add are arguments, not statements of position. These, as we keep saying, aren't the purpose of an introduction. If you think the intro has a pro-ID bent, by all means make it neutral. But don't do it by adding arguments.
You seem not to like the fact that ID arguments get a chance to be stated before the scientific ones. Well of course. In a debate, the party that states a claim must go first: you can't argue against something that hasn't been stated. The scientific arguments relevent to this discussion are those against ID, that is, arguments criticizing ID claims, and so obviously have to go after the ID claims.
For the record, I think this article has little to fear from looking too pro-ID. A rough copy-and-paste into my text program finds about 3,800 words writing about the scientific arguments, and only about 1,200 words written about the ID arguments. — Asbestos | Talk 23:55, 28 May 2005 (UTC)
Well, I was trying to respond to Rikurzhen's first objection while you two were elaborating your arguments--I added a line in the intro and moved a couple of things around, but now I'm doubting that I really understood the objection. Overall, I agree with Asbestos's assessment of the situation. The discussion of politics is essential to the topic; ID has at least as much to do with politics and philosophy as it does with science. BTfromLA 00:16, 29 May 2005 (UTC)

Asbestos and BTfromLA seem to be saying that arguments should be restricted to the body of the article. In general I would agree, but the nature of this topic is that it is essentially a debate -- its all arguments. So an intro without some arguments seems impossible (I would claim that the current intro has arguments anyway). Thus, it seems to me that the intro should summarize the fundamental position of each side (and very briefly their primary reason for taking that position). My reason for this is the view that the intro should suffice for a person who doesn't want to read any more than the intro. So as a compromise, perhaps there needs to be at least one statement/argument each about science and politics in the intro for both POVs. --Rikurzhen 00:48, May 29, 2005 (UTC)

crimeny. I don't have time to read all this. Someone can condense it for me if I missed something important. Whoever decided to turn the introduction criticism of ID into a strawman needs to knock it off. The scientific community's criticism of ID needs to be represented with its strongest argument as succienctly as possible, not with it's weakest argument, rambling on and on in incoherent sentences. I noticed that someone rewrote the first two paragraphs and fleshed out ID's position and I support that. ID should be presented with its strongest case as well, as succienctly as possible. But if you're supportive of ID, then I have a hard time taking your edits of the ID-Criticism section to be anything other than an attempt to weaken criticism and/or sweep it under the carpet. FuelWagon 04:51, 29 May 2005 (UTC)

It looks like FuelWagon and I agree. I think the reintegrated intro is even better than what we started with. It should stay at this level of detail and in this form. --Rikurzhen 07:42, May 29, 2005 (UTC)

Various arguments to subvert criticism

cause I can't keep up, and because they seem to pop up repeatedly in various places, I thought I'd attempt to boil down the various attempts to subvert criticism of ID so they could be addressed one by one, and hopefully, once and for all.

The intro is too long

The argument begins "the article is too long" or "the intro is too long", and concludes "so I'm just going to whittle down the introduction." Sometimes followed up by "the cricism is still in the body."

However, the article is massive. four paragraphs for the intro is not that long for an article of this size. If you want to cut down on article size, start somewhere else.

Should not put "criticism" in intro

The argument basically states that criticism should be reserved for the body of the article, and that the intro should be nothing but pro-ID summary.

However, wikipedia is not an advocacy site, it's an informational site. To give readers a complete description of what ID is and is not, both points of view need be presented. To write an intro that is all "ID, hooray!" and bury empirical science's criticism at the bottom of a 65k article creates a biased article and is a disservice to readers. Criticism of ID helps define what ID is and is not. keeping criticism out of intro is being vague in exchange for pro-ID advocacy.

ID is about science, not politics

The argument states something to the effect of "ID is about how life began on earth" and concludes "Criticism of ID for teaching creationism in school is political and doesn't belong in the article".

This is naive. It is also another way of pro-ID folks to define valid criticism of ID to be "off limits" for reasons of being "off topic". The political motivations of pro-ID folks is one of the main criticisms by empirical scientists. Since this criticism represents a major argument by one point of view, it should be represented in the article that way.

These unsigned claims are evidently by Fuelwagon. They have no credibility whatsoever—Fuelwagon has declared that he (or she) can't be bothered to read the talk page discussions, but for some reason has decided to inflict his (or her) hallucinations about what those discussions are like on the rest of us. So far as I can tell, nobody here has made any argument that remotely conforms to the nonsense above (e.g., "the intro should be nothing but pro-ID summary," "bury empirical science's criticism at the bottom of a 65k article"). This is childish, totally disrespectful of the other editors here, and not worthy of a serious response. BTfromLA 16:22, 29 May 2005 (UTC)
Fuelwagon, if you have the time to write a comment that requires three subheadings, you could at least show the rest of us the respect to read what's already been posted. As BTfromLA notes, your comments are nonsensical, and are basically attacking strawmen.
To start by labeling my own POV, as as anti-ID as they come, have already written one article on an evolutionary process, and am currently writing a dissertation on the use of various evolutionary techniques in artificial intelligence. So to imply, as you do that people who disagree with you are doing so to "subvert criticism" is clearly absurd. I have no idea where BTfromLA's POV comes from; It doesn't much matter.
Next, if you had bothered to show us the respect to read the discussion, you would have found that none of the three positions you label the rest of us as having make any sense at all. "The intro is too long". I read not a single person saying that above. "Should not put "criticism" in intro". Again, can you point out who says this? The alternative intro clearly describes who is criticising ID and why. "ID is about science, not politics". Here your cursory skim through seem to have gotten things backwards. In response to (what I that was) Rikurzhen saying that politics should not be talked about, I replied: "Clearly, a discussion on the politics of ID is relevant, because ID was pushed mainly as a means of getting creationism around politics and the courts. If it weren't for politics and the courts, ID wouldn't be being pushed, creationism would." So suggesting that those who disagree with you believe that "Criticism of ID for teaching creationism in school is political and doesn't belong in the article" is obviously completely backwards.
When you have bothered to read what the rest of us wrote, perhaps we wouldn't have to spend time explaining why you appear to be attacking nothing but strawmen.
Asbestos | Talk 19:19, 29 May 2005 (UTC)
First of all, one massive talk-page block (the one labeled "Are lengthy criticisms in the intro fair?" if you're having trouble following my meaning) is worthless. The same arguments get brought up in differernt places and get re-argued, and re-hashed. So, it's a waste of my time to respond one large block of text with multiple threads, multiple forks, many different topics, and the same arguments scattered throughout, and then have it brought up again in some other sub-thread or some other fork. I notice that someone started a section that attempts to deal with the debate by paragraph, and consider that to support the idea that I'm not the only one who sees having every debate contained in a monolithic block to be a problem.
Secondly, you said:
"The intro is too long". I read not a single person saying that above. "Should not put "criticism" in intro". Again, can you point out who says this?
You're kidding me, right? Did you completely miss the section titled "Are lengthy criticisms in the intro fair?" That pretty much says criticism shouldn't be in the intro, and that it is too long. Read a few of the posts there, if you want more. FuelWagon 14:52, 30 May 2005 (UTC)



Advocates of ID propose a methodology of addressing this dispute. They say to start with the observed facts, and then try to make sense of them. If you see giant statues, think "sculptor". If you see orderly rows of scratches on the Rosetta Stone, think "dead language". Faced with what they call "Irreducible complexity", they hypothesize a designer.

(I think we all agree that the above is a fair statement of ID's purpose and methods. If not, the following is premature.)

ID is such a big deal for its opponents for several reasons:

  • it looks like a patently underhanded way of sneaking Creationism into the public school curriculum
  • it does not qualify as a bona fide "hypothesis" (a) because there's no way to falsify it; (b) because supernatural causes are "off limits", i.e., science should only study the natural world
  • it undermines advocacy for atheism

I have yet to be convinced that Wikipedia covers the latter three bullet points adequately in ANY article. So like it or not, I think we'll have to re-hash here a lot of the stuff that was supposedly "covered in much greater detail, accuracy, and npov style on the Creation and evolution in public education page."

ID is just different enough from mainstream creationism that it demands (or at least hopes for!) different treatment. It wants to be a "third player" in the game.

Formerly, the battle was a "one thing or another" issue. Shall we teach our children that God created us 6,000 years ago? Or that we and apes descended from a common ancestor (without God's help)? Recall that still around half of Americans accept the Biblical account given in Genesis as fact. (And I'm not sure how many are willing to accept the fossil record.)

So, it's not as simple as "we already did this for Creationism vs. Evolution". I'm afraid we're going to have to do it all over again for ID. --user:Ed Poor|Uncle Ed (talk) 18:12, Jan 27, 2005 (UTC)

As noted in your explanation of the ID method for addressing the debate and evidence, the methods both sides use to address evidence are markedly different:
The Scientific Method:
Evidence and phenomena found in reality comprise the facts. What conclusions can we draw from them?
The Intelligent Design Method:
The evidence leads to only one conclusion. What facts can we find to support it?
Because of this, for the Intelligent Design argument the conclusion will always precede the premise, making it a logical fallacy. This too needs to addressed in the article.
I've read most of the canon for both sides of the ID debate, and this is the first I've heard of your point "ID is such a big deal for its opponents...(because)it undermines advocacy for atheism." With one or two exceptions, I've yet to see many scientists engaging in the advocacy of atheism or atheism used as justification for denying ID proponents their claims. I'm not saying it doesn't or hasn't happened, but I am saying that it's a) unlikely in that is a non sequitur to their goals, and b) ID proponents are predisposed to make such claims, which means we need to be very skeptical, even more so than usual in such cases. If you can provide sufficient evidence, then we are obligated to include the assertion, of course. But given everything I've read, evidence for claiming an atheist advocacy conspiracy against Intelligent Design pervading science or even mainstream society is pretty weak.--FeloniousMonk 19:41, 27 Jan 2005 (UTC)


  1. I think you may be confusing "scientific creationism" with "intelligent design". When I started studying so-called "creation science" in 1988 I immediately dismissed it as an attempt to do just what you say ID does: it has picked its preconceived conclusion and is interested only in finding supporting evidence. This is even worse than pseudoscience: it's dogmatism. The little I've learned in the last 5 years about ID appears different to me: an attempt to state creationism's premise as a genuine hypothesis - to be accepted or rejected on an equal basis with evolution by natural selection, i.e., judged by the same rules of evidence.
  2. There is considerable evidence that atheistic beliefs inform (or motivate) at least some advocates of naturalistic evolution. I'll dig this up in due course and we can discuss its relevence to the ID article then. Surely we know already that belief in God and Creation is a significant motive for ID proponents. That is, it's a big deal for THEM at least. --user:Ed Poor|Uncle Ed (talk) 19:58, Jan 27, 2005 (UTC)

I wasn't confusing "scientific creationism" with "intelligent design". My original point was that intelligent design, as does any other supernatural intervention that attempts to account for the origin of life or species, weights it's assumptions. Intelligent design's conclusion --that life did not arise randomly and is the result of intervention-- is implicit in it's premise --that life's complexity is evidence of design-- and so is just begging the question. Intelligent design settles on this conclusion without ever accounting for origin of the designer, which it hints may be of natural origin while at the same time excluding at least our life arising by natural random means. This is a contradiction; one cannot rule out complex life arising by natural means while asserting the deus ex machina that brought forth life may indeed by naturalistic.
I agree that there's no doubt many evolutionist's influenced by their atheism. But I'm very skeptical of any claims that atheism informs or motivates actual science. Deism/theism or absence of either is a non sequitur in science.--FeloniousMonk 20:00, 28 Jan 2005 (UTC)
I don't agree with either of you. Starting from a conclusion and trying to find evidence for it (called "dogmatism" above, but I'd rather call it narrowmindedness) doesn't do much harm as long as there are others who start from another conclusion. Narrowmindedness causes you to concentrate on evidence in favor of your opinion and neglecting evidence against it. As long as there are scientists who start from another opinion, they will find the evidence against yours, and no harm is done. To the contrary - since you concentrate on evidence in favor of your opinion, you will find evidence you wouldn't find if you spread your attention farther apart. So, narrowmindedness actually furthers science.
Dogmatism, in my opinion, is something more: claiming that your brand of narrowmindedness should be compulsory. This is a mark of pseudoscience. If the dogmatic rule is widely accepted, it hurts science and truth, since everybody will look in the same direction. But: this only regards conclusions, not methods. Not using invalid methods and arguments should be compulsory. --Hob Gadling 10:53, Jan 28, 2005 (UTC)
I agree with the distinction Hob has made between what we might call "constructive narrow-mindedness" and the "pseudo-scientific" compulsory sort. If I understand him correctly, he and I agree that there is no harm in trying to prove one's point; looking for proof is actually good. And I think we also agree that the mark of pseudoscience is the refusal to consider contrary evidence.
I personally consider "creation science" to be pseudoscientific -- not because they are trying to prove God made man, but because they deliberately refuse to consider any evidence to the contrary.
I'd like to see an even-handed evaluation of (1) the theory of evolution, (2) intelligent design and (3) creationism, which explains the methodology of each theory's supporters and critics in terms of their willingness to consider contrary evidence. --user:Ed Poor|Uncle Ed (talk) 15:50, Jan 28, 2005 (UTC)
this is all excellent thinking -- thanks for articulating such a great idea, Hob. I like the idea of drawing the distinction out on the page too, with the proviso that we maintain npov with respect to creationists -- certainly some of them are dogmatic and just out to prove their religion ... but i'd like to think some of us are persuaded by the evidence (however skewed our view of the evidence may be). also, we could point out that while evolutionists think ID is "stealth creationism," most dogmatic creationists criticize ID for not being dogmatic enough:). quotes or summaries of all the appropriate povs would make for an excellent subsection, i think. Ungtss 16:28, 28 Jan 2005 (UTC)
By explicitly outlining the various methodological distinctions of the participants in the debate, then we will also be bringing up their logic and reasoning for adhering to their respective methodologies, and hence that logic's validity. Considering the shaky ground some the logic stands on, I'm concerned that this may be become an area and source of constant contention for some.
As for Hob's point that starting from a conclusion and accepting only evidence that supports it doing no harm, that may be true for some things, but not for science. And since science is what intelligent design is trying to be part of, the distinction between those who adhere to valid scientific method and those who start from preconceived, rigid conclusions and then cherry pick the evidence is a valid point to make in the article. --FeloniousMonk 20:19, 28 Jan 2005 (UTC)
Straw Man! I didn't say that "starting from a conclusion and accepting only evidence that supports it" does no harm, but "starting from a conclusion and trying to find evidence that supports it" does no harm. --Hob Gadling 14:39, Jan 31, 2005 (UTC)
Well, neither one is harmless. There's a reason that "starting from a conclusion and trying to find evidence that supports it" is not part of the scientific method. Further reading as to why can be found at confirmation bias.--FeloniousMonk 21:06, 2 Feb 2005 (UTC)
the scientific method starts with a conclusion by definition. "Hypothesis: this is true." "Test: if the hypothesis were true, and i did this, then this would happen." "Conclusion: hypothesis confirmed or rejected." there's nothing unscientific looking for a bunch of different ways to test your hypothesis, or evidence to support it. if there were, then the search for the "missing links" would be unscientific, too. the only problem appears, as hob said, when you ignore all contrary evidence, or lie about your own. Piltdown man, for instance. Ungtss 23:16, 2 Feb 2005 (UTC)
Also, it's very naïve to assume that confirmation bias can be avoided by trying to be neutral. It's a weakness inherent in all humans, and it can be avoided by using the scientific method, e.g. double blind studies. Science is always a community thing: one person alone can't do science. Others are needed to look over his work and point out the mistakes. Creationists make lots of mistakes, some of them very basic, and they keep making them after being corrected (with exceptions). That's why creationism isn't science. The preconceived notions of the creationists involved may be the deeper reason for the mistakes as well as the clinging to them, but since one can't look inside people, this can't be used as an argument. --Hob Gadling 13:12, Feb 28, 2005 (UTC)

Recent Changes

The articles has really improved over the last few days. I've just made a range of changes to the first half of the article, which I think make the article more readable, and a little more balanced. I plan on making some similar changes to the second half later on. If there's any problems, please leave specific criticisms here, and I'll be happy to discuss them. --Brendanfox 06:15, 28 Jan 2005 (UTC)


npov requires that articles describe ideas without implying either that they are valid or invalid. the word "conjecture" is defined as a conclusion based on "incomplete evidence and guesswork." [2]. ID asserts that there is positive evidence FOR ID. The word "conjecture" therefore minimizes ID to "guesswork." Using the word "Idea" (as i did before Stirling reverted commenting only that 'Conjecture is better') avoids this problem without losing any information. Stirling, why is 'conjecture' more npov? Ungtss 18:55, 1 Feb 2005 (UTC)

"hypotheses", "beliefs","theories". Whichever is picked it should be plural since ID is not monolithic, especially since fine-tuned universe is discussed here and it is completely orthogonal to any evolution issues.--Silverback 19:14, 1 Feb 2005 (UTC)
Since the status of ID as being scientific at all is an issue, NPOV requires that we not assert language which prejudices the matter. Stirling Newberry 19:34, 1 Feb 2005 (UTC)
that's why i think "Idea" (or "Ideas" as Mr. Silverback prefers) is a happy middle ground between "theory" and "conjecture." eh? Ungtss 19:47, 1 Feb 2005 (UTC)

The biggest stumbling block for Wikipedia describing ID is the dispute in the non-Wikipedia "outside world" over whether ID is really a legitimate scientific hypothesis, or not. Since this dispute is significant (and is even causing friction at Wikipedia), I suggest we take a step back and describe the dispute fairly.

Let the article label ID as an "idea". All Wikipedia editors agree that it is an idea; we're just not agreed on what sort of idea it is.

May I suggest this wording?

  • Intelligent Design is an idea about how life came into being on the earth, particularly human beings.

I would further suggest that we describe in the article much of the external wrangling over whether ID is:

  • a valid hypothesis, but unproven (i.e, still MIGHT be true)
  • a valid hypothesis, but clearly NOT true
  • not a valid hypothesis
    • because conjectures about non-physical (i.e., supernatural) causes are off-limits
    • because there's no way to disprove it (see falsifiability)

Note that some of these positions may be in conflict. For example, it can't both be (a) a valid hypothesis which is clearly not true and (b) not a valid hypothesis because there's no way to disprove it.

I would prefer for the article to avoid taking sides in this dispute. Let's just summarize the views of the main proponents and opponents of ID, as expressed in books, articles, public speeches, etc. Okay? --user:Ed Poor|Uncle Ed (talk) 16:02, Feb 2, 2005 (UTC)

Except that it's not "an idea". It's a collection of diverse -- indeed, opposing -- viewpoints, attitudes, stances, and arguments, all united only in their opposition to purely naturalistic evolution. However, it is not untrue to call it a cultural movement. I agree with Silverback here -- if you are including "The fine-tuned universe" argument in with ID -- an idea that is held by such ardent Darwinists as Robert Wright, it is inaccurate to call it a single idea. --Goethean 17:32, 2 Feb 2005 (UTC)
seems we've got a semantic issue here. "Intelligent Design" is simply the idea (singular) that there is evidence that natural things were intelligently designed. Under this umbrella, we've got a NUMBER of ideas, including IC, SC, fine-tuned universe, etc ... ID is like an umbrella, no? Ungtss 18:44, 2 Feb 2005 (UTC)

Article splits

As G. describes it, ID sounds more like a movement. I'm comfortable with that. I myself belong to a "movement", and its name can be either a theology or a church as well:

If we're still agreed that ID theories and the ID movement should be described in a single article, then how can we incorporate the Goethean insight?

  1. Move the article to intelligent design movement and begin it with The intelligent design movement is a collection of diverse -- indeed, opposing -- viewpoints, attitudes, stances, and arguments, all united in their opposition to purely naturalistic evolution.

This raises a closely related question:

  • How is ID related to creationism?
    • ID is a branch of creationism
    • ID in utterly unrelated to creationism
    • ID is "stealth creationism": theology dressed up in a cheap polyester suit, trying to look scientific and all...

Let's keep working on this, we're making progress! --user:Ed Poor|Uncle Ed (talk) 18:46, Feb 2, 2005 (UTC)

I vote for moving the article to "ID movement". There are so many varieties of ID that all three of your prongs are true. Some versions of ID, like the thought of Neo-Hegelians which is accurately characterized by the phrase "a universe fine-tuned for evolution", are not related to scientific creationism. But Behe and Johnson are accurately characterized as making room for "stealth creationism". And most or many of the people who call themselves IDers are actually creationists. Additionally, this would nullify the cntroversy of whether it is a conjecture, idea, hypothesis, theory, umbrella, raincoat, etc. --Goethean 19:40, 2 Feb 2005 (UTC)
i vote we split the page ID and ID movement -- ideas in the first, political / social stuff in the second. Ungtss 20:32, 2 Feb 2005 (UTC)
We could spin off "intelligent design movement" as a separate article, but one linked to at the top of the main one. I submit it be referenced something like this: "This article concerns the idea of intelligent design, a variant of the Argument from Design often referred to by supporters of the Intelligent Design Movement. --RBeschizza 01:32, 3 Feb 2005 (UTC)

I don't see how one separate ID from the ID movement, it is difficult to understand the former without the latter. A more natural divide would be between fine tuned universe and the rest of ID, since the former is orthogonal to evolution.--Silverback 06:15, 3 Feb 2005 (UTC)

None of this requires us to KEEP the two article forever separate. Often it facilitates the writing process if one or two parts are split off TEMPORARILY as sidebare articles. A few weeks later, it then becomes obvious that either:
  1. They can and should be integrated; or,
  2. They can and should remain as separate articles
In the case of Augusto Pinochet, the stumbling block was how to describe America's involvement in the 1973 coup. After the sidebar came into being, several writers who had been watching (timidly?) from the sidelines came in and quickly completed the Chile series. --user:Ed Poor|Uncle Ed (talk) 20:45, Feb 3, 2005 (UTC)
excellent thinking. shall we give it a shot? Ungtss 21:02, 3 Feb 2005 (UTC)
If we do, let's mention that the intelligent design movement:
  • has been promoting the view that "Intelligent Design" is a viable scientific hypothesis
    • and thus worthy of consideration in U.S. public school biology textbooks as an "alternative theory" to naturalistic conceptions of evolution
  • has been in conflict (political and legal) with its opponents
  • consists chiefly (?) of Creationists
  • attempts to portray itself as distinct from "creation science", and yet
  • is considered a form of "stealth creationism" by many opponents

Does that sum it up well enough? Note that I'm asking both sides, fan and foe. --user:Ed Poor|Uncle Ed (talk) 15:49, Feb 4, 2005 (UTC)

  • has been promoting the view that "Intelligent Design" is a viable scientific hypothesis, yet to date has offered no alternative to natural selection or divine fiat as a mechanism for the origin of species --Goethean 16:24, 4 Feb 2005 (UTC)
  • all sounds good to me, ed:). Ungtss 16:56, 4 Feb 2005 (UTC)
To Ungtss: thanks. To Goethean, I think that is essentially correct. Alhough ID wimps out on characterizing the designer as supernatural, it certainly doesn't rule that out (wink, wink, nudge, nudge). Perhaps that's why the "stealth creationism" label sticks so well.
The ID movement apparently want divine fiat (as you put it) taken off the sidelines and put back into the game, insisting that sources of causation other than automatic functioning of natural law be considered. They want to use (or highjack?) the argument used by ancient historians: the Easter Island statues, the monoliths at Stonehenge, and the Rosetta Stone could not credibly have been caused by anything other than an intelligent being having a purpose. Why not "mechanisms" such as flagella? (Note that I'm not saying Wikipedia should endorse this argment! Only that we should provide a fair summary of what their argument is - along with any significant rejoinders from opponents.) --user:Ed Poor|Uncle Ed (talk) 17:49, Feb 4, 2005 (UTC)
Wikipedia should not endorse anything, that's what NPOV is about. -sconzey

removed NPOV banner did not follow-up here on the talk page.--Silverback 10:48, 9 Feb 2005 (UTC)

  • I suggest that the NPOV banner on the "ID as 'Stealth Creationism'" section should be removed as well. The section does not make any assertions as to whether this type of criticism is accurate, simply that it exists. Given that it's an established fact tht many ID opponents do view ID as "stealth creationism", I see nothing non-neutral about the section. On the contrary, my opinion is that for an article on this subject to be both neutral and comprehensive, the arguments of both sides must be clearly stated. Redxiv 06:24, 11 Feb 2005 (UTC)

I agree, despite being a staunch creationist and ID supporter. I see nothing wrong with Wikipedia reporting that opponents portray ID as stealth creationism. It's the same as US Senate Democrats portraying President Bush as "attacking" Sen. Reid via proxy. Wikipedia is not endorsing the POV, merely reporting that its advocates hold it. -- Uncle Ed (talk) 19:55, Feb 11, 2005 (UTC)

absolutely. facts are facts. Ungtss 20:38, 11 Feb 2005 (UTC)

Improability as impossibility

Contrary to Ungtss's reversion assertion - Dembski argues explicitly that improbability below a certain threshold represents proof of design:

" Confronted with this second scenario we are obligated to infer that here is a world-class archer, one whose shots cannot legitimately be explained by luck, but rather must be explained by the archer’s skill and mastery. Skill and mastery are of course instances of design." Stirling Newberry 14:53, 23 Feb 2005 (UTC)

Let me repeat that since Ungtss does not seem to be reading the POV he is pushing:

cannot legitimately be explained by luck

I will again protest Ungtss' participation on this page, since he is here solely to push a POV, and he cannot be relied upon to even be a knowledgeable about that POV. Stirling Newberry 14:53, 23 Feb 2005 (UTC)

so speaketh the source of all light and reason on the page, the one who has been acknowledged by all, evolutionist and creationist alike, as truly objective in all things intelligent design.
i don't believe that what dembski's saying and what you are saying are the same thing. he says "cannot legitimately be explained by luck" -- again -- technically possible by luck, but so unlikely that it is unreasonable to believe it happened that way. this contrasts with your revision, which sets a strawman -- extremely unlikely, therefore impossible. so let's say what dembski's saying, shall we? i will edit the page to reflect dembski's views, rather than your views or my views of dembski's views. (so speaketh "the mad hound of creationism", dedicated only to spreading his lies and forcing people to believe things so he can drag them into the pits of the demon religion!!! YAAAARGH!) Ungtss 16:57, 23 Feb 2005 (UTC)
guys, this isn't the place for a flame war. Try private emails. Ungtss, I can understand your frustration. For random passers-by, Ungtss's assertions re: himself & Stirling are correct. Stirling earlier called for outside adjudication of what was (is?) growing into a flame+revert war on the talk pages and edit summaries. Community sentiment decided against Stirling. (Check the history and look over the edit summaries.) Ungtss has until now been relatively restrained.
As for the issue of what Dembski does or does not say, I must admit that I'm ignorant of the particular passage in question, but the section quoted by Stirling and Ungtss's interpretation of it are typical ID arguments. The "cannot legitimately by explained by luck" rationale is often used in science, and is in itself reasonable. Indeed, the threshold probabilities ID supporters typically toss around are many orders of magnitude below the typical physics thresholds for "something weird's going on." (That is, ID uses numbers which are tighter on the face of things.) My problem is not with that aspect of their argument, but rather how they estimate the probabilities for abiogenesis, macroevolution, etc. I think their statistical calculations of physical / chemical processes are specious. I haven't seen the arguments in detail, but the little I have seen makes me intensely skeptical... That being said, the "cannot legitimately be explained by luck" should go with Dembski's / Ungtss's interpretation. (If anyone takes my rambling on statistics \& physics out of context, I'll be most upset.) SMesser 18:36, 24 Feb 2005 (UTC)
i apologize for my lack of restraint. i'm intrigued by your concerns over the statistical methodologies -- would you be willing to clarify them further in the article? Ungtss 19:15, 24 Feb 2005 (UTC)
okay, happy now. Briefly, my concerns are that the layman-level reports of the calculations seem to ignore initial conditions and chemical pathways, both of which are very important to most physical / chemical estimates of probability / efficiency. Amino acids and complex hydrocarbons have been observed in interstellar dust clouds, where we do not expect life to exist, and ice-cores and other records suggest that early Earth history had an atmosphere similar to modern Titan's, and the Miller-Urey experiment suggests that given time and randomized input energy can cause such a chemical mix to change into one featuring a larger variety of highly complex chemicals. The impression I get is that the calculations (quasi-)forbidding abiogenesis are supposed to be path-independent, but without seeing the actual math, I can't say for sure. (There is some question of whether or not I'll be a valid judge even with the appropriate papers in front of me - I'm a plasma physicist, not a biochemist, so modern papers on biochemistry should be over my head.) An actual path-independent approach seems like it should use quantum mechanics, Feynman diagrams, and more computing power than is currently available to the planet. But again, I haven't seen the technical arguments, so maybe I'm missing something. Perhaps you can provide a reference?SMesser 14:37, 25 Feb 2005 (UTC)
Hmmm. Just glanced back at the article, and it looks like the subject may've been the apparently fine-tuned universe, rather than abiogenesis, as I'd assumed. I have similar objections to the assertion that the universe is fine-tuned. Proving that it is would seem to require a detailed theory of everything, as well as an agreed-upon definition for what constitutes life. Both of these things are lacking in modern science, and the ToE should be worth a Nobel Prize if Dembski has found it. There are several contenders, but they're rediculously hard to test experimentally. Note in particular that the many-worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics remains an open question. Disproving it may be necessary to show that the universe as we see it is fine-tuned, rather than just an example of the weaker forms of the anthropic principle in action. Again, I haven't seen the technical calculations, so a categorical denial of Dembski's arguments is beyond me, but I find the lay-level assertions highly suspect. Do you know of any references? SMesser 15:02, 25 Feb 2005 (UTC)
from what i've read, i think i can safely categorically agree with your assessment. ID has by no means reached the status of "proof." all the requirements you note for such a "proof" are indeed lacking. And certainly many ID types have gotten a little ahead of themselves, and argued that things are proven when they're not. However, I think what they DO provide is a basis for an intriguing and entirely legitimate line of research, and grounds for at least some semblance of belief in a positive designer, and disbelief in evolution.

("theory of everything" moved to User_talk:Ungtss --DavidCary 07:10, 4 Jun 2005 (UTC) )

I'll have to disagree with Ungtss on the progress of ID. I don't think they've provided sufficient evidence to merit much consideration in professional biological circles. Evolution has provided a theoretical framework for enormous advances in genetics, comparative anatomy, and paleontology. Backing away from it requires large amounts of pressing evidence and a theory which explains everything covered by evolution as well as a large chunk of the outlier points. The biological community doesn't seem to think such evidence is pressing, and ID doesn't seem to have much predictive power. (This last point is a common problem when the naturalistic / materialistic assumptions of modern science are dropped.) If you want detailed answers by a biologist, look up Graft. He's easy enough to get along with, but solidly in the evolution camp. As for my own views, I'm bothered by ID's ties to young-earth creationists, claims by some in the ID community that naturalistic abiogenesis violates the second law of thermodynamics, and the sociopolitical goals outlined in the [Strategy] leaked from the Center for the Renewal of Science & Culture. Similarly, I'm unsatisfied by urgings from the ID community to teach evolution's "weaknesses" in public schools. Most of what the ID community cites as weaknesses are not viewed as such by contemporary biologists, and the weaknesses of quantum mechanics, general realtivity, and electromagnetics are not taught, since the details are beyond what most high-school students can grasp. (There's a quip I've heard running around physics labs: "Why is it all the easy questions have been answered?")

SMesser 17:55, 25 Feb 2005 (UTC)

("theory of everything" moved to User_talk:Ungtss --DavidCary 07:10, 4 Jun 2005 (UTC) )

I don't believe the claim that scientists arguing against ID "point out that Behe has backed off from examples of irreducible complexity." is true. This is inconsistent with the scientific method as science is not based on authority. The arguement would carry as much weight as arguing that Gallileo backed off his claims. While it is significant that Behe backed off some of the claims, it should be mentioned as an aside and not as real evidence cited by scientists in arguments against ID. --

Wait a second. If Behe previously had examples that he claimed showed the improbability of evolution through natural forces, and now he no longer holds these examples up, and he no longer points to any counter-examples that render naturalistic evolution improbable, this seems to me to be a relevant point. --Goethean 16:50, 22 Mar 2005 (UTC)
Perhaps this discussion would benefit from a cited instance of Behe actually backing off a claim without providing a counterclaim. This would certainly be more persuasive and encyclopedic, as well as settling the reader's suspicion that this is just another groundless personal research assertion with no relation to reality. Ungtss 17:24, 22 Mar 2005 (UTC)
Based on the No Personal Research policy, I strongly suggest that one of the proponents of this sentence find a source to back it up. There are articles in newspapers complaining about inaccurate personal research on wikipedia. Let's not condone it. Back that sentence up with some facts, please. Ungtss 12:49, 23 Mar 2005 (UTC)
If Behe presented evidence that his examples were incorrect it is worth being mentioned, but if he simply backed off saying that he no longer believes his claims to be true then this is not evidence against the claims in scientific terms as the merits of the claims do not rest with Behe's personal beliefs.
Yes indeed:). It is mere ad hominem, and certainly of no scientific interest. However, this instance of ad hominem is in good company, as much of the rest of the article is ad hominem. Were the writers of this article interested in article QUALITY, the sentence would certainly go on that basis. However, given that article quality is not of interest to many editors, I suggest simply that the sentence is unadulterated personal research, therefore in direct violation of articulated wikipedia policy, and should be backed up with facts, or deleted. Ungtss 17:21, 23 Mar 2005 (UTC)
I'm not aware of Behe explicitly rejecting the "ICness" of any of his previous examples. There are some that he doesn't mention very much anymore, but this doesn't mean he's changed his mind about them. However, if he did explicitly reject some previous examples, then I do think it would be relevant. Not because Behe is an authority, but because the IC argument requires that IC, once identified, be an absolute barrier to evolution. If new discoveries can render previously idenfied examples of IC no longer opperative, then this puts the argument on very shaky grounds. There's no reason to believe then that all examples of IC will not suffer the same fate. (Personally, this is how I see things, but for now I think the statement should be removed, since I know of no evidence for it.) --Theyeti 21:12, 5 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Other comments: reduplication on talk page

How come this talk page is almost entirely reduplicated? — B.Bryant 14:35, 19 Mar 2005 (UTC)

At any rate, what brought me here was the article's assertion that the Center is funded at the rate of $1.5 per year, which is surely an error. — B.Bryant 14:35, 19 Mar 2005 (UTC)

Feel free to remove these three comments when the relevant problems are fixed. — B.Bryant 14:35, 19 Mar 2005 (UTC)

I have tried to deal with the duplication on this page. Please restore any lost material -- ciphergoth 16:49, 2005 Apr 8 (UTC)

(A bunch of copy-and-paste duplication was accidentally introduced on

I wish it had been reverted then.

I'm trying to carefully delete it now without losing the comments that have been added since then. --DavidCary 07:06, 4 Jun 2005 (UTC) )

Reversion of revision by

I've reverted four revisions by User: These changes don't seem to be an effort to make the article more informative, but simply to replace neutral language with inflammatory. It's disingenuous to say that ID "seeks to answer": ID is precisely the position that the answer to that question is "yes". -- ciphergoth 13:42, 2005 Apr 9 (UTC)

No, ID seeks to answer these questions, and provides some evidence that what it proposes is true. It no more prejudges the issue than anti-creationist scientists do when they say "the answer to the creation of life must exclude any supernatural entity". DJ Clayworth 14:40, 14 Apr 2005 (UTC)

It seems to me that the whole section "Intelligent Design as Stealth Creationism" is just some guy's idea of why he doesn't like ID. It's just listing reasons why he thinks it's wrong, without any idea if these are generally agreed or whether the arguments are rebuttable. It needs serious work or prefereably removal, since it is really someone trying to carry out the debate under the pretence of writing an encyclopedia article. DJ Clayworth 14:38, 14 Apr 2005 (UTC)

I removed this section because it is clearly untrue.

As with religious creationism. ID is open to the criticism "what designed the designer?", since a designer capable of creating irrducible complexity must also, by ID's own arguments, be irreducibly complex. Unlike with religious creationism, where the question "what created God?" can be answered with theological arguments, this appears to create a logical paradox whics is fatal to the ID argument unless an uncaused causer, that is to say, God, is invoked, in which case ID reduces to religious creationism. Once this is done, ID ceases to be a falsifiable theory, and therefore loses its ability claim to be a scientific theory.

It is clearly untrue because there is no a priori reason why an irreducibly complex system cannot have been designed by a non-irreducibly complex entity. In fact evolution proponents cliam this all the time. Computers (obviously irreducibly complex) have been designed by humans (which they claim are not). I re-iterate my point. Just because you think you have a good argument as to why ID is wrong does not give you the right to put it in the article. This is an encyclopedia, not a debating society. DJ Clayworth 14:53, 14 Apr 2005 (UTC)

It is valid criticism of ID. You don't have the right to remove valid criticism just because it could reveal a fundamental fallacy in ID.

Regarding "there is no a priori reason why an irreducibly complex system cannot have been designed by a non-irreducibly complex entity": -- Your position, that irreducible complexity can arise from something that is not itself irreducibly complex, is suicidal. That is why ID advocates tend to view the Designer as irreducibly complex: it is easier to defend the "first cause" arguments criticised in the passage you removed than it is to defend a non-irreducibly complex Designer.

Obviously you have not the slightest idea of what 'irreducably complex' means. Hint: Computers are not. The statement is correct; that is a serious flaw (one of many) with 'intelligent design.' Re-added.The Rev of Bru

New article

Please see the following article:


I would add it to the references, but I'm not sure that it belongs. There is a great deal of information in the article that is not well-included in this article. Joshuaschroeder 21:11, 2 May 2005 (UTC)

huge pile of nothing

What the hell is up with this article? It is way too long. It's a lot of fluff to give verbal substance to something that has no substance of its own. Intelligent Design can be described in a couple of paragraphs. The scientific community's point of view against ID can be presented in a couple of paragraphs. This article has exploded into a pile of nothing in order to dance around any and all hard facts. Time to scrap it and start over. FuelWagon 22:15, 6 May 2005 (UTC)

Speaking of which, the following was inserted by anon:
- (full text was inserted below following it's move here) -

We need to trim this article. Not write a book.--ghost 18:47, 12 May 2005 (UTC)

( copy-and-paste duplication removed. --DavidCary 07:06, 4 Jun 2005 (UTC) )