Expelled movie producer exposes the holy hand of Intelligent Design

(Note: For those searching for critical analysis of creationist cinema, be sure to check out all of the latest updates on the Expelled! movie. This article may not be the best place to start.)

Expelled! producer Walt Ruloff has published an op-ed about the recent controversy at Braylor University. What’s all the fuss about? Essentially, the university asked a professor not to imply that Braylor officially supports his Intelligent Design and not to host his “research” webpage promoting the cause on their servers without a disclaimer to that effect.

Based on this one act, Walter Ruloff actually starts questioning whether the school’s administration even believes in God (I know: he can barely believe he’s saying something so ridiculous either!). Given that Baylor is a private Christian institution, this is a pretty vicious accusation to lobby at fellow Christians. And given that many Intelligent Design advocates have gone to great lengths to avoid tying the validity of their ideas to anyone’s particular religious beliefs, it’s also pretty clumsy.

Is merely not buying the idea that Intelligent Design movement is doing legitimate scientific research now enough of a litmus test to suspect you closet atheist? Some outright young earth creationists reject Intelligent design because they think it concedes too much to secular science and is unbiblical. Are they secret atheists too, just because they don’t buy Ruloff’s claims about a webpage being “important research?”

Ruloff goes on to say that the university’s account of their decision is “phony-baloney procedural explanations that don’t stand up to scrutiny.” But of course, he never tells us what those explanations are so that we might judge this for ourselves. Somehow, I expect that his upcoming film will rely on a similar tactic: very selectively reporting arguments and events to fit his theme, leaving out any inconvenient context or contradictory facts. It’s going to be like watching a boxing match in which the blows of one of the boxers are digitally edited out, making it look like a vicious unprovoked beatdown.

Ruloff’s op-ed closes with the usual litany of supposedly oppressed ID martyrs: he doesn’t even give a hint of the opposing view that these cases have been grossly misrepresented for PR purposes.

As I noted in my first post on Expelled!, focusing nearly exclusively on victim-hood is a very clever PR strategy: you can work to build outrage in your audience without ever addressing a single substantive issue. Is Intelligent Design really scientific and testable? Are the claims made by its proponents honest scholarship conducted in a legitimately academic fashion? What is the actual evidence?

Those questions are fundamentally relevant to any understanding of the debate, not to mention the question of whether ID proponents have really been wrongly persecuted for their ideas. Ruloff has managed to dodge them almost entirely in this op-ed: not even acknowledging how relevant they are to judging the controversy. We’ll soon see if his movie is equally limber and evasive.

Update: Hemant over at the FriendlyAtheist notes that Baylor has consistently denied the small atheist/agnostic group on their campus any formal recognition. Not exactly the sort of behavior we’d expect from the vast atheist conspiracy.

Months Later: Check out all the latest updates on Expelled! for more.

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51 Responses to Expelled movie producer exposes the holy hand of Intelligent Design

  1. Bug Girl says:

    Did you know that Baylor doesn’t actually allow nude drawing classes? They have to wear bathing suits.

    (That was true in the 90’s, anyway.)

    Trying to make a school as religious as Baylor out as the baddie is a non-starter.

  2. Bad says:

    Yeah, I wonder if Ruloff thinks any students at Braylor will actually be convinced.

    ID people, all the while claiming that their subject doesn’t depend on pre-existing religious belief, really show their hand when it comes to criticizing other religious people for not sharing their convictions. Ruloff got sloppy here by doing it so openly: it’s generally much more coy.

  3. […] tell me: when I laid out exactly how I expected this film would play out: that it would focus almost exclusively on simply repeating the claims of purported ID victims and […]

  4. sillysillysilly says:

    WASHINGTON — The National Academy of Sciences (NAS) and Institute of Medicine (IOM) today released SCIENCE, EVOLUTION, AND CREATIONISM, a book designed to give the public a comprehensive and up-to-date picture of the current scientific understanding of evolution and its importance in the science classroom.

  5. Buzz says:

    How smart and interested in actual fact can you be when you don’t even know the name of the university is BAYLOR, not BRAYLOR. After all, verifying such basic facts is both scientific and testable.

    Once is a typo (still inexcusable in blog), but twice is simple ignorance and carelessness.

    You have zero credibility.

  6. Bad says:

    Actually, typos and misspellings, including repeat offenders, are pretty common with me, and I’m always happy to have people point them out and correct them, as I’ll do now thanks to our kind admonishment. I actually have some difficultly reading words as individual letters, and without spell checking, I have some trouble and have always relied on the kindness of strangers with what is a minor but annoying disability.

    Unfortunately, I’m afraid that the only one here without credibility is the person who has brought no substantive arguments, responses, or alternative perspectives to the table. If you think any of the things I’ve stated about Baylor are false, you are more than welcome to offer corrections on those: we need not try to take shortcuts and avoid my specific mistakes: readers need to know what I got wrong, no?

    If you’d done more than a cursory examination of this site and of myself, you might also have noted that I welcome and respond to criticism, and pre-admit to being error prone and in need of correction. That is, after all, one of the core ethics of the liberal scientific method.

  7. onein6billion says:

    They offer to “bribe” schools to bring their kids:

    http://www.getexpelled.com/schools.php

    But hurry to register – there’s a limited amount of bribe money. Last come – not served.

  8. […] The Intelligent Design Flick so Bad They Have to Pay You to See It Reader onein6billion notes that the Intelligent Design flick Expelled! is continuing to ramp up their marketing campaign, this […]

  9. JohninIndy says:

    I find that the marxist/socialist/evolutionist opinion here are as rabid and voracious as ever. For all the vaunted “puffery” proclaiming the use of the scientific method in the use of “proving” natural selection/evolution, I still have never seen the actual evidence proving the links between man and apes. A lot of smoke, but no fire. Even Darwin didn’t push a Creator out of the equation, just made a theory to describe what he was seeing in the Gallopagos Islands. It took Marxist communism/socialism to make that giant leap.
    We cannot prove the missing link, although many have tried. When we have tried to induce evolutionary growth in fruit flies and other short life span test beds, we get mutations, but not advancements. Now, for being a Christian, I dont have a problem with believing that the earth is billions of years old. I dont have a problem believing that we have experienced the different ages as described by our paleontologists, however, it also doesnt PROVE evolution either; ESPECIALLY cross species jumps!
    We wouldnt expect to believe that leaving silicon, sand, and stock steel in a controlled environment for millions of years would result in a functioning Mac PowerBook. The animal kingdom is infinately more complex than a simple constructed laptop. Even the simplest of bacteria is more complex than the most complicated made-made construct.
    I definately believe that when looking at the animal kingdom, man included, the circumstantial evidence demands exploration into the idea of Intelligent Design.
    Before the socialist/communist rise in the late 19th century, no one argued than we originally were designed by a higher power. Only the self-centered socialists came to teach and believe in “pure” evolution made that leap.
    For my final paragraph, I will posit a challenge to true evolutionary believers. Show me the science behind evolutionary theory; show me the undenieable evidence, the link tying man to modern ape. I am open minded, I have come to my current beliefs based upon what I can see and what makes sense. If you can change my mind and beliefs then do so. All it takes is evidence, not hyperbole… JohninIndy carhauljohn@gmail.com

  10. Bad says:

    I still have never seen the actual evidence proving the links between man and apes.

    Chances are pretty good that you have seen plenty, but that there is no amount of evidence that would satisfy you. There aren’t just “links.” Human beings ARE apes, in every biological sense of that term. The teeth in your mouth are ape teeth: no other creature on the planet has teeth in such a pattern with such a unique set of shapes… except apes. Which includes human beings. Personally unique fingerprints? Ape trait, exclusive to Catarrhini (old world monkeys). Which we are not simply “jumped from” into then being human beings: it’s something which we ARE. And so on.

    Even early creationist taxonomists recognized these things long before anyone considered an evolutionary connection. Since the advent of both exactly the fossil evidence you’d expect of a transition, as well as genetic evidence that confirms the branching connection, the conclusion has become unavoidable.

    It’s all right under your nose.

    Even Darwin didn’t push a Creator out of the equation, just made a theory to describe what he was seeing in the Gallopagos Islands.

    What Darwin did or did not think is irrelevant. Science is not a succession of papal authority. It’s about the evidence. And science doesn’t have stake in untestable claims about a “Creator.” What it does is describe what the evidence shows.

    It took Marxist communism/socialism to make that giant leap.

    It’s amusing that you feel the need to lump all the things you don’t like into one single category, regardless of whether they are meaningfully connected or not. What’s really amusing in this case is that normally what people whine about with evolution supposedly being some sort of moral theory (it’s not, but that doesn’t seem to stop the whining) is that it’s all about competition: the weak vs. the strong. The exact opposite of socialist philosophies and utopias. And, in fact, historically most communist countries had as terrible a record on science and evolution as you can find.

    We cannot prove the missing link, although many have tried.

    That’s because there is no such thing as “the” missing link, and missing links are not particularly relevant to the evidence for evolution and common descent.

    When we have tried to induce evolutionary growth in fruit flies and other short life span test beds, we get mutations, but not advancements.

    This statement is meaningless. “Advancements” is not an objective term in biology: it’s relative to environmental needs.

    Now, for being a Christian, I dont have a problem with believing that the earth is billions of years old. I dont have a problem believing that we have experienced the different ages as described by our paleontologists,

    Don’t believe it. UNDERSTAND it.

    it also doesnt PROVE evolution either; ESPECIALLY cross species jumps!

    I don’t think you understand what you are talking about. Species do not jump. Occasionally, they hybridize (such as camels and llamas, or lions and tigers), but the evolutionary pattern is that new species are subgroups of old species, not that one species turns into another. This is a common misconception. Add up all these misconceptions you have about evolution, and it’s no wonder you find such a caricature implausible!

    Before the socialist/communist rise in the late 19th century, no one argued than we originally were designed by a higher power. Only the self-centered socialists came to teach and believe in “pure” evolution made that leap.

    A statement both historically and philosophically ignorant. Communists were not the first atheists, nor the only atheists, and being unconvinced by god claims has nothing in itself to do with communism. Again, charming that you think you need to dump everything you dislike all into one category so you can hate it all the more. But not particularly accurate. Countless non-believers are passionate anti-communists. Countless communists and socialists are religious (in fact, socialism has a long history of being centered around religious communes and ideas).

    Non-belief rose in all countries, socialist or capitalist. Focusing the fact that some communist states were anti-religious (since it got in the way of their total control) and thus condemning non-belief or science is like focusing on the fact that communist states won more gold medals, and thus condemning Olympic sports.

    As for your challenge, I’m sorry, but it’s all just a big rhetorical put-on. The evidence is not a secret: no one needs to be responsible for “showing” it you, as if we were somehow not stepping up to the plate by not badgering you with it. You are the one not stepping up to the plate. The evidence is widely available in nearly every library available to you, in countless helpful internet sources, and so on. The real problem with the evidence is that it takes time and willingness to learn the basics of things like forensic science, genetics, geology, and so on. And that it is not any one single piece of evidence that makes it compelling, but rather a huge convergence of evidence that all cross-confirms, from genetic study to fossil evidence to what we know of population distribution to morphology, and so on.

    You’ve already demonstrated more than enough misconceptions of what evolution is and says to suggest that you have not put in this effort. So what should make us think that you will do so if WE then try to put in the effort to show you? Why is it our job to correct your misunderstandings?

    Sorry, but the challenge you pose has already been met a thousand times over. The evidence is already out there, publicly available, widely known. The question is whether or not you are willing to address this overwhelming body of evidence, not whether or not we are prepared to retype for the millionth time what you are unwilling to seek out yourself.

  11. JohninIndy says:

    Your answer, Bad, is well thought out and a rational regurgitation of evolutionary teaching. I bring up Darwin because its called Darwinian Evolution. Do we share certain traits with the great apes? Certainly we do. Genetically, we are closer to apes than people with Downs Syndrom are to us. However, my point is that until Karl Marx put forth his Communist Manifesto, and declared that man was “just another animal”, people believed that we were different. I still believe that we are different. We are self aware, we know we will die. Animals, even apes, do not share that awareness. At least not that we know of. Each theory, Darwinian Evolution and Creationism, requires an element of faith. As an evolutionist, you have to have faith that life on Earth is pure chance and accident. That somehow amoeba became slugs, became fish, grew legs, became mammals, became man. That requires HUGE amounts of faith. My understanding of science and the natural world (which i hold a degree from a major university in) reinforces my belief in a higher power. When we delve deeper into the chemical and atomic makeup of even single-celled organisms, the smaller you go, the more complex the make-up and fantastical the structures. My study (and 2nd degree) in World History is where my understanding of, and timeline in, evolutionary biology comes from. I have been in the lectures, I have debated my professors, I have throughly studied the science. I have come to the following conclusions: Vertebrates and invertebrates change according to their environments, the Universe is billions of years old, birds may be descendant from certain dinosaurs, according to the dna we are a close relative of the ape, and finally, we are unique. “Evolutionary” changes do not preclude a creator. The Bible says that we are fearfully and wonderfully made. I dont see how that contradicts the science, just replace chance with intentional design and it answers alot of questions. My question to you is, are you trying to prove that there is no God? Does belief and science HAVE to be mutually excusive? Its is apparent to me that most evolutionary biologist are more intent upon disproving a creator than they are open-minded to the possibility, and THAT comes from Marxist theory whether you recognize it as such or not. By the way, i am not a militant Bible thumper out to save the world. My faith is quiet and private, but not hidden. I am enjoying this, I hope to hear from you again. JohninIndy2. (recently found out that theres another JohninIndy)

  12. Bad says:

    I bring up Darwin because its called Darwinian Evolution.

    Colloquially, really. A more appropriate term for modern evolutionary biology might be the “Neo-Darwinian synthesis.” But the fact remains that Darwinian evolution does not rest in any way shape or form on the authority of Darwin the man.

    Do we share certain traits with the great apes? Certainly we do. Genetically, we are closer to apes than people with Downs Syndrom are to us.

    First of all, we aren’t closer to apes: we are apes. Everything that defines what an “ape” is such that apes are distinct from all other primates, defines us. We are a subgroup of apes just as we are a subgroup of mammals.

    And as for the Down’s thing, you’re going to have to explain that one to me, because I don’t see how that makes sense. Down syndrome is also known as trisomy 21 because it involves an extra 21st chromosome, or at least part of one. That’s an extra homo-sapien chromosome, not an extra chimpanzee one. Counting every base pair in extra this chromosome as non-homo-sapien difference, to weigh against the differences between humans and other apes throughout a genome seems like a huge huge stretch.

    However, my point is that until Karl Marx put forth his Communist Manifesto, and declared that man was “just another animal”, people believed that we were different.

    Again, this is just incredibly sloppy history. All you are doing is pulling out one hated figure and trying to argue that somehow the fact that he thought something makes him the sole and central cause of that view, and thus denigrates the view. This just isn’t so. Marx was not the first person to think of humans as animals, nor the last, nor was this even a particularly important part of his writings, nor was he the only influential person to hold this view, nor the cause of all the other people holding it, nor is this view even particularly relevant to evolutionary biology, which doesn’t concern itself with bizarre issues like whether human beings are “just” anything. And indeed those that characterize human beings as animals can mean a heck of a lot of very different things by that.

    And also you seem to forget to mention that Marx’s views were pretty much the exact opposite of the other view evolution is commonly blamed for: social darwinism. None of these ideas are particularly relevant to evolution as science, but the attempt to smear science with them looks pretty silly in the face of the fact that it is supposedly the foundation of two diametrically opposed social philosophies.

    I still believe that we are different. We are self aware, we know we will die. Animals, even apes, do not share that awareness.

    Well, first of all, that’s not true. Apes certainly do not have the level of awareness that we do, but they certainly are self-aware and have at least some understanding of death, including sorrow at the death of loved ones.

    Second of all, some apes do have what you are talking about: human beings. Which are apes. Yes, the human variation of ape has a big brain and well-developed self-awareness, perhaps even something that is a whole new paradigm of awareness and intelligence. But this does not contradict the idea that we are apes, The fact that we have specific traits unique to our subgroup is perfectly normal. So do gorillas as distinct from other apes. So do gibbons. And so on.

    Each theory, Darwinian Evolution and Creationism, requires an element of faith.

    Ah, the old mantra. But, no. Evolution is based on following the empirical evidence. Creationism is based on claiming to already know all the answers, with trying to claim that the evidence fits (when it does not, often laughably) as an afterthought. Not even remotely the same process.

    As an evolutionist, you have to have faith that life on Earth is pure chance and accident.

    No, I don’t. That’s another place you’ve misunderstood things. I don’t claim to know how life on Earth began (though ascribing this to evolution, which explains diversity, not abiogenesis, is another common misunderstanding). But I do happen to know that there is no such thing as “pure” chance, and most certainly this description would not apply to the specific environment of the early earth, where a lot more than just chance was operating.

    That somehow amoeba became slugs, became fish, grew legs, became mammals, became man.

    I don’t need faith to think these things because they are either simply wrong, or well supported by plenty of evidence. Amoeba are not the ancestors of slugs. Slugs are not the ancestors of fish. And fish did not “grow” legs: legs are modified lobe-fins. Some fish did develop into mammals and some mammals did develop into modern man. Not because I have faith that they do, but because that’s what the evidence says, from every angle, any way you try to slice it.

    My understanding of science and the natural world (which i hold a degree from a major university in) reinforces my belief in a higher power.

    “science and the natural world” is a not an accredited major or degree program in any institution I’m aware of, so you’ll have to be more specific. But if you feel that science increases your sense of wonder about the universe, and you see that universe as someones grand creation, I don’t have any real beef with that. I share the wonder, just not the belief in the idea that a God was responsible.

    When we delve deeper into the chemical and atomic makeup of even single-celled organisms, the smaller you go, the more complex the make-up and fantastical the structures.

    I’m not sure I see how this holds true. Certainly cellular structures are complex and fascinating. But “more” than what? What do you mean by “complex” (not that there is no good answer, but this is a much harder question to answer than you might suspect)? Cellular structures are pretty much the oldest and most evolved things on the planet: it’s no wonder they are incredibly well adapted and intricate.

    My study (and 2nd degree) in World History is where my understanding of, and timeline in, evolutionary biology comes from. I have been in the lectures, I have debated my professors, I have throughly studied the science.

    The problem here is that it wouldn’t take more than a few minutes of study in biology or history to avoid making the sorts of mistaken claims you’ve made about evolutionary taxonomy or intellectual history (which is the actual university discipline relevant to what you are claiming, not whatever “World History” is: surely your degree must have been less broad than that)

    I have come to the following conclusions: Vertebrates and invertebrates change according to their environments,

    All vertebrates and invertebrates? But this doesn’t even include all of the Opisthokonts, much less the various other eukaryotes, much less all evolving life.

    “Evolutionary” changes do not preclude a creator.

    I’ve never argued that they did or do.

    The Bible says that we are fearfully and wonderfully made. I dont see how that contradicts the science, just replace chance with intentional design and it answers alot of questions.

    What questions? I don’t see how it explains much of anything. It most seems to avoid explaining anything: it provides no evidence, no details, no window into how things happened. Given some unknown process a name and someone who is claimed to have been responsible for it doesn’t explain much of anything in my book.

    My question to you is, are you trying to prove that there is no God? Does belief and science HAVE to be mutually excusive?

    I think I’ve been pretty clear about these things in my writing.

    Shorthand:
    Am I trying to prove that there is no God? No. I don’t believe in one, certainly, but I don’t need to run around proving that there isn’t such a thing.

    Do I believe that belief and science are mutually exclusive? Depends on what you mean. If you mean are the methods employed are mutually exclusive, then yes. if you mean that religious people can be good scientists, or that science cannot inspire religious people’s religious imaginations, or religion cannot be a motivating factor for someone to appreciate science, then no.

    Its is apparent to me that most evolutionary biologist are more intent upon disproving a creator than they are open-minded to the possibility, and THAT comes from Marxist theory whether you recognize it as such or not.

    I’m sure that prominent evolutionary biologists like Kenneth Miller who believe in a creator, and a Catholic one at that, would be pretty confused to hear about their supposed passion in disproving their own religion. I would say that “most” evolutionary biologists spend very little time at all worrying about proof for or against a creator at all. They are too obsessively focused on their work, and as we often forget, a passion for religious debate is actually a fairly rare interest: most people don’t have strong feelings or interest in that particular controversy. It’s just that those of us who do tend to be the most obvious participants in said controversies.

    And no, the idea of being anti-religious or critical of religion does not “come from” Marxist theory any more than wearing pants, just because Marx wore pants. Plenty of people were critics of religion centuries and even millenia before Marx was even born, and countless people have been atheists, both in Marx’s time, before it, and after it, who took no advice from Marx, or were explicitly anti-communist.

    There’s probably a lot of Johns in Indy, I’m afraid. :)

  13. […] the same domain-name discrepancy I noted way back when with the producer’s claims to have innocently used “Crossroads” as a […]

  14. Paul Roasberry says:

    I am a Buddhist, and as a Buddhist, I reject any idea of a creator god. Likewise, I reject the strict materialism that characterizes Marxism. Quantum mechanics has supplanted materialism as the most accurate model of reality. One does not, therefore, have to be a Marxist, nor even be influenced by Marxism, to reject the notion of a creator god. The idea simply makes no sense. It is a fundamental tenet of Buddhism that unless one has a clear grasp of what is real, one dwells in ignorance and cannot achieve enlightenment. The Dalai Lama has even stated that if science can disprove Buddhist epistemology, Buddhism must change. This is a statement you will never hear from Christian creationists, for their whole conception of reality depends on “revealed,” rather than discovered truth. And where discovery conflicts with their Bronze Age revelations, it must yield to the latter. Creationism is appallingly reactionary.

  15. Bad says:

    Quantum mechanics has supplanted materialism as the most accurate model of reality.

    Quantum mechanics is “materialist” science. I’m not sure what this “Marxism” stuff is all about though.

  16. Robert Martin-Hill II says:

    there is a simple test
    those who do not believe in evolution, those who believe in creationism and ID should stand by their beliefs.

    they should not use any modern medicine.

    they should use faith healers only.

    and like supposed animal rights activists they will not stand by their beliefs and refuse modern medicine.
    and I mean all of it. no bandaids, no tampons, no vaccines, no antibiotics.

    I have yet to anyone who says they are IDs creationists or animal rights who will do this.

    the thing that turned the tide in the high-school in Penn was that college’s admissions people told the guidance counselors that any applications from their school would go in the garbage.

    parents voted the idiots out in the next election.

    I love when people bring up marxism, or hitler and stalinism as athiestic.
    in many ways these were religions or cults. They were strongly held beliefs; held against all evidence of not being functional. And by the way russia and china were communist for about 5 minutes each. Then they turned into totalitarian fascist gov.

  17. kLevkoff says:

    This is sort of a response to the fellow who asked for “actual proof” of evolution. My answer is simple… As a general theory, evolution seems to fit the most facts the best. While it has been proven in specific cases, it is true that it has certainly never been proven conclusively for all possible cases. To me, this means that we should treat it like “the theory of gravity” – which isn’t perfectly understood either….. we use it, until and unless it is proven generally wrong. If it is proven wrong or insufficient in trivial situations, we try to figure out why and reconcile the errors, possibly changing the theory a bit in the process if necessary.

    I have seen several claimed “proofs” for ID. Most of them entail statistical claims that evolution could not have accounted for specific things; most of them are based on assumptions that are no more reliable than the ones which they claim to refute. We really cannot prove whether a single cell could have evolved into a newt in 1.1 billion years or not – so analyses like that remain, for the present, open and pointless.

    I have two MAJOR complaints, however, with the entire “debate” as approached by the ID/Creationist crowd. The first is simple: proving that the theory of evolution is not perfect is totally unrelated to proving that ID is correct! Even if the theory of evolution were entirely wrong, that would not prove that God exists or that ID is correct. It may be true that, in practice, people tend to believe one or the other of those two options, but, logically, it makes no sense to imply that flaws in evolution automatically support intelligent design, or, for that matter, that ID supports God (as described in the Bible).
    Logically, however, if evolution is wrong, the correct theory could be some as-yet unknown one, or one of the hundreds or thousands of other creation myths that have existed throughout history.

    The second complaint is simply that there IS no evidence to support the “theory” of Intelligent Design. The ONLY thing that supports ID is that the Bible claims that it is true….. and the Bible is a book, written “about two thousand years ago” by a group of authors, claiming to contain the true descriptions of their encounters with God. The only evidence that the Bible is anything other than total fiction is that it SAYS it’s true.
    Virtually all “scholarship” on the subject consists of discussions between various individuals about their interpretations of the Bible – all based on the single unproven assumption that it is true and contains, at least to some degree, “the word of God”.
    And there is no evidence whatsoever to support THAT assumption.

    As someone wiser than I once said: “The claim that God exists is really an extraordinary claim. As such, it requires extraordinary evidence to prove it. Instead, we have no evidence whatsoever.”

  18. kLevkoff says:

    Just for the record….

    I’m perfectly happy to believe that I’m a member of the most advanced, most powerful, and most dominant species of ape ever to have inhabited this planet…..
    and I do NOT understand why religious believers find this idea to be so offensive.

    (What I understand even less is why many of them PREFER to think of themselves as the badly flawed, ignorant, and quite willfully stupid offspring of a less-than perfect creator…… and I say less-than-perfect because he supposedly created defective angels who turned on him, and then, as an encore, created flawed human beings, who immediately used their much touted “free will” to disobey him as well……. One would think that a perfect creator would have done MUCH better, at least the second time :) )

  19. […] amongst the top results when you search for information on the film, which is pretty odd, because I almost never post about the darn thing. While I’m flattered, Internet, I can’t help but […]

  20. William says:

    Reading through this blog is a rip in logic and knowledge. Bad, I suggest you put down whatever video game you are playing, get on your bicycle and ride to a book store. When you get there go inside and ask for the just released book by David Berlinski.

    Read it.

  21. Bad says:

    Reading through this blog is a rip in logic and knowledge.

    I keep having to repeat this: but simply making accusations like this without explaining or defending your claim is worse than worthless. Anyone can run up to literally any argument in the universe, shout “but that’s illogical and ignorant” and then run away again. So what? For those that actually care about logic and knowledge, such statements are pointless. If you have some criticisms, bring them on so all can see and judge them for themselves, and so I have a chance to either defend myself or even correct myself (if I’m wrong, but you won’t tell me why, then you are doing me a great disservice). But if you aren’t willing to do that, then you are just wasting everyones time, including your own.

    You also seem to assume that I’m unfamiliar with Berlinski’s work. You’re wrong. While I’ve yet to read Delusion specifically (it only came out this month), I’ve read quite a bit of his writings previously. I’ve even critiqued one or two of his claims here on this blog. I may go out and read his book. I may not. I’ve yet to see anything regarding it suggesting that it contains anything new or compelling from him that hasn’t already been argued and addressed elsewhere.

    But that’s beside the point in any case. If you have a point to make, if you think he makes some particularly winning argument: then by all means please present it here and we can discuss it. Simply handing out reading assignments and then running off again is almost as pointless as unexplained criticisms.

    Berlinski himself is unlikely to show up here to defend my discussion of his claims. Thus, it’s down to you to explain and defend your own position, even if you are mostly getting it from Berlinski (which is perfectly fine, of course). But why should I put lots of effort into reading his arguments and then talking about them, all on your command, when you haven’t signaled any willingness to stick around and defend or discuss the issue in the same detail?

  22. Rwinindy says:

    It blows my mind as an engineer that the complexity of life is constantly minimized. Complexity of life is a fact. It is very important for statistics to be used in trying to explain how life began. Ignoring stats should not be an option. Since man can’t duplicate even the simplest living organism (which is far more complicated than anything man has produced ) shouldn’t we at least consider a designer. Thinking an intelligent designer is not possible is not enough. Squelching debate is not acceptable unless there is proof. Evolutions do not have proof that an intelligent designer is not possible so why not at least allow for the possibility? After all, an alien could have seeded life on earth. Isn’t an alien intelligent?

  23. Bad says:

    Rwinindy says: It blows my mind as an engineer that the complexity of life is constantly minimized. Complexity of life is a fact.

    When it comes to appreciating complexity, in my humble opinion, biologists blow engineers out of the water. Understanding cellular function is way way more difficult than schematics or materials sciences. So I’m not sure why engineers always think they have one over on biologists when it comes to complexity. In fact, most biological systems have complicating factors that are never generally an issue in conventional eningeering: high levels of chaos and overlapping redundancy.

    It is very important for statistics to be used in trying to explain how life began. Ignoring stats should not be an option.

    I think you’ve missed the point on this entirely though. The issue with most of the calculations that purport to show how improbable life is is that they are trying to do statistics without any sort of good modeling of what they are claiming to represent. Chemistry has a very high level of chaotic interaction, but also a very complex and intricately diverse number of specific mechanisms and reactions. Even modeling a single protein interaction in anything approaching accuracy is a stretch for many powerful computers. Trying to model the conditions for the origin of organic reproduction is even farther beyond our grasp. Which is why declarations of implausibility are all ridiculously premature and pointless. Various methods for the origin of life could be anywhere from impossible to inevitable. We simply don’t have any way of knowing at present aside from just continuing to examine, test, and learn.

    Since man can’t duplicate even the simplest living organism (which is far more complicated than anything man has produced )

    This doesn’t make much sense: a designer can’t do it, do therefore, we should assume that a designer did it? And in any case, it’s wrong on at least three counts. First of all, scientists are busy creating a fairly complex organism as we speak.

    Second of all, the whole point is that early life was much simpler than any living organism around today. Every single organism around today is highly evolved (in the sense that it’s ancestry reaches back billions of years), including bacteria. Even the simplest known bacteria is much more complex than what we think early life was like based on genetic analysis, fossil traces, and so on. Plus, we know from experimental creatures such as Speigelman’s Monster that self-replication is possible even at a vanishingly small number of base pairs, given the right environment.

    Third, whether or not we can yet do it in the lab has little at all to do with whether its naturally possible. Lots of things are simply not technically feasible, either because we don’t know enough, or don’t have the tools to make it happen.

    shouldn’t we at least consider a designer.

    You’ve just admitted that the only designer we know of and have any tangible experience with can’t have done it, so . The “designer” you would have us appeal to instead would be something so beyond anything we know or understand or have evidence for that we might as well just say it happened by magic, and that’s that. Even saying that a designer performed the magic is probably being too unjustifiably specific.

    Thinking an intelligent designer is not possible is not enough.

    Again, you have it quite backwards: it’s not that it isn’t possible, it’s that it’s untestable, because it could potentially explain or do anything, no matter what the evidence was. Magic explanations don’t leave us anywhere to go in science, and they aren’t demonstrable from evidence. This is a core problem that the ID side simply has not addressed satisfactorily.

    Squelching debate is not acceptable unless there is proof. Evolutions do not have proof that an intelligent designer is not possible so why not at least allow for the possibility? After all, an alien could have seeded life on earth. Isn’t an alien intelligent?

    The difference is that aliens are at least specific enough of a hypothesis to be testable. But even in that case, we don’t have any evidence that they exist, so appealing to them prematurely seems pointless. We might as well appeal to intelligent pixies too, while we’re at it. But imagined possibility, or which there is an infinite amount once you discard all known natural laws, is not usable evidence or good science.

  24. Rwinindy says:

    Bad, thanks for responding. With the volatility of this subject politenness is in order. It’s late so I will respond tomorrow. Hope you get some ggod rest.

  25. Rwinindy says:

    First, thanks for acknowledging that a designer is possible. I do think this is provable through facts. We know that almost all and most probably all living cells contain a blueprint for the design of that cell. As time goes on we will undoubtably discover even more information. Everything man has made has been engineered and this involves a plan, part of which is first a concept then design and finally production. What makes you think living creatures are any different?
    This we know for a fact. The scientists that you refer to that have created a living organism does make my point of ID unless you think humans are not intelligent. Sometimes that may actually be the case however. Be carefull calling it creating because they are using known blueprints to aid in thier production. Isn’t it fascinating that they couldn’t do it without those pesky little plans. When the world is devestated by a meteor in 10000 years and the next group of evolved “people” discover it, what will they think? Oh, I get it , they certainly will not think it could be intelligent because it just couldn’t possibly be so.
    I do think evolution is possible. However there are two kinds of evolution. The first being designed evolution and the second random evolution . I wonder which category you fit in?

  26. Bad says:

    Rwinindy Says: First, thanks for acknowledging that a designer is possible.

    I’m not sure who it is that is supposed to not be acknowledging it. Nearly everyone acknowledges that it is possible, including even firebrands like Dawkins.

    I do think this is provable through facts. We know that almost all and most probably all living cells contain a blueprint for the design of that cell.

    This is mostly a side issue, but while no analogy is really good enough, “blueprint” is really very much the wrong analogy for what DNA is. Recipe would be more like it: since what DNA “describes” is really a process, not any particular end result. We reliably get certain end results only when the context is right, but even then they are not exact. Ultimately, DNA is really more of a set of stored causal chains, for which there really is no common analogy I can think of. That’s part of why it’s such a pain to learn: there are few intellectual shortcuts to understanding it.

    Everything man has made has been engineered and this involves a plan, part of which is first a concept then design and finally production. What makes you think living creatures are any different?

    Where is the plan? Where are the prototypes? Where is the evidence of a construction process? Where are the tool marks? These are the sorts of things we look for in order to determine if this or that thing was designed by human beings. But ID doesn’t propose anything close to these sorts of tell-tale signs, in part because what most ID proponents quietly believe is that it was all done by supernatural magic, which could basically make anything at all happen with no particular identifiable features at all.

    The scientists that you refer to that have created a living organism does make my point of ID unless you think humans are not intelligent.

    Wow: you really moved the goalposts on that one. First you insist that its a big deal against abiogenesis that scientists cannot make an organism, and now you insist that if they can, this is also a big problem for abiogenesis. Which is it?

    Be carefull calling it creating because they are using known blueprints to aid in thier production.

    Yes and no: they are certainly using knowledge gleaned from existing life to do what they are doing. But they are also creating novel functions and features that are new to artificial life.

    Isn’t it fascinating that they couldn’t do it without those pesky little plans.

    Well, yes: and existence of those plans is good evidence that those lifeforms were designed. Exactly the sort of evidence that is lacking in natural life.

    When the world is devestated by a meteor in 10000 years and the next group of evolved “people” discover it, what will they think?

    Oh, I get it , they certainly will not think it could be intelligent because it just couldn’t possibly be so.

    You’ve again missed the point: it isn’t about possibility, it’s about testable evidence.

    And in fact, there ARE going to be key differences between artificial life and natural life that in our case will make them distinct enough to tell apart in many cases. Most natural life has all sorts of features and patterns that are characteristic of a very specific process: natural selection. Artificial life, on the other hand, will likely be very much more to the point, and we’ll see lineages in it that defy the sorts of rigidly ancestral patterns we see in natural life.

  27. Rwinindy says:

    How many cakes do you make wihtout a recipe? I would bet that DNA will not be as deep as we go in creating life. You are describing creating something with what we currently know and our current abilities. Isn’t it possible that sometime in the future we will create something indistinguishable between artificial and natural? I know this is speculation but statistically it’s a sure bet. Science will not stop discovering!
    Plans come in all sorts of construct. Cavemen drew in the dirt and on cave walls, then herders on papyrus then vellum and finally computers in digital form. Are you implying DNA is not a data storage device? If not, how do you know for sure? Not testable is not true. By using information of current life forms to create life aren’t we teating that info. And finally, moving the goalposts was the point!

  28. Bad says:

    Rwinindy Says: How many cakes do you make wihtout a recipe?

    I’m not sure what you are implying. My point is that DNA encodes for certain causal events to happen. It does not specify in detail what the final product will be like, as a blueprint does. It specifies discrete actions that, given the correct external environment, will put together a new organism.

    Once you realize this: that DNA is part of a causal chain, rather than a hard disk for “information” it makes it a heck of a lot easier to understand how we get from basic molecular events to organisms.

    I would bet that DNA will not be as deep as we go in creating life. You are describing creating something with what we currently know and our current abilities. Isn’t it possible that sometime in the future we will create something indistinguishable between artificial and natural? I know this is speculation but statistically it’s a sure bet. Science will not stop discovering!

    That wasn’t my point though: the reason that artificial life will be distinguishable from natural is not the level of sophistication, but rather the distinctive sort of “signature” of its structure. Natural genetic code is characteristic of the sorts of things that genetic algorithms (i.e. like natural selection) create. It is also basically restricted to its ancestry: good genetic ideas that evolve in cats can’t be taken from cats and put into dogs. Artificial life, on the other hand is and will be much more to the point: characteristic of intention and honed purpose to serve our needs, rather than evolution’s sprawling constructions. And our creations will have all sorts of cross-pollination that implies information and ideas traveling OUTSIDE of the natural means of reproduction and ancestry (i.e. someone has a good idea, and so someone else puts that genetic idea to work in a different organism).

    Are you implying DNA is not a data storage device?

    I’m implying that thinking of it as a data storage device is misleading: you miss a large part of what it actually is and does.

    And finally, moving the goalposts was the point!

    Not in a coherent argument it isn’t. You can’t claim that something is a problem for position X, and then turn around and claim that the exact opposite is ALSO a problem for position X.

    Plans come in all sorts of construct. Cavemen drew in the dirt and on cave walls, then herders on papyrus then vellum and finally computers in digital form. Are you implying DNA is not a data storage device? If not, how do you know for sure? Not testable is not true. By using information of current life forms to create life aren’t we teating that info. And finally, moving the goalposts was the point!

  29. Rwinindy says:

    Bad, I have very much enjoyed our discussion. The only thing I take issue with is that both engineers and biologists are pretty intelligent. I certainly haven’t designed any life forms but I would say it’s a safe bet you haven’t designed satellites. We just have different vocations.

  30. Bad says:

    I didn’t say that they weren’t intelligent, just that this thing about them having a special insight into complexity, compared to evolutionary biologists, is just nonsense.

  31. Rwinindy says:

    Bad, Thanks again for responding but you didn’t commnet on the testing. I understand what you are saying about DNA but what I am saying is that it is more complex than just putting chemicals together. We don’t know why certain chemicals are used in it’s construction and so forth. Every time we think we know it all we discover more. As we discover more hows and whys we can construct life forms using those “plans”. This is called testing the plans to see if something can be produced.
    You can’t imply there is not an itelligent designer and then hang on to that implication after a life form is purportedly created. It was only a mattter of time until something would be assumed to be created by man using discovered info.

  32. Rwinindy says:

    I didn’t say engineers have special insight into complexity. All I am saying is I don’t understand why statistics are so conviently ignored when they are used everywhere else. I can’t think of any other field that doesn’t use some form of stats. Can you?

  33. Bad says:

    I don’t know what you mean. Biologists use statistics all the time: especially in fields like population genetics.

    The problem with statistics isn’t the use of statistics itself, its how creationists pretend to use it to “prove” that this or that is impossible, when in fact their math doesn’t even come close to any sort of accurate model of what they are claiming to characterize.

  34. Rwinindy says:

    You are right! I have never heard it used in the context of proof rather plausibility. At least that is the way I have understood it. Also you have not responded to my previous post.

  35. Bad says:

    You are right! I have never heard it used in the context of proof rather plausibility.

    That’s what I’m talking about: claimed proofs of how this or that natural event is implausible. Most of these end up being pretty much worthless.

    Again, statistics aren’t being ignored. Lousy, nonsensical applications of statistics by creationists are.

    And I’m still not clear what you are getting at. You said this:

    I can’t think of any other field that doesn’t use some form of stats. Can you?

    And I said: biology does use statistics, all the time, and all sorts of other mathematical tools, so its moot point.

  36. Bad says:

    Bad, Thanks again for responding but you didn’t commnet on the testing.

    I don’t know what you mean by this. I didn’t?

    I understand what you are saying about DNA but what I am saying is that it is more complex than just putting chemicals together. We don’t know why certain chemicals are used in it’s construction and so forth. Every time we think we know it all we discover more. As we discover more hows and whys we can construct life forms using those “plans”. This is called testing the plans to see if something can be produced.

    I’m not following you, and you seem to keep switching subjects here. There are lots of things about DNA that are more complicated than the exact sequencing… so what? When did I say differently? What are you even responding to here?

    You can’t imply there is not an itelligent designer and then hang on to that implication after a life form is purportedly created.

    I don’t see how any of this makes sense. No one is “implying that there is not an Intelligent Designer.” There simply isn’t any useful evidence around of one designing natural life. And humans creating a life form doesn’t change that.

    It was only a mattter of time until something would be assumed to be created by man using discovered info.

    But again, there are already obvious ways to tell a human-engineered organism from a naturally evolved one.

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    I posted on this blog 3 years ago. Since that time I have learned a bit more and have a question for the neo-Darwinian evolutionists out there. How long would it take for the simplist of single celled organisms to match their genes perfectly so that life could begin? Reading a book by chaos mathmetician dealing with base pair matching, it occured to me that the numbers are astronomical. I am NOT a mathmetician or a geneticist, but I can read. If a single celled organism had only 5 base pairs and 10,000 genetic marker connections, the time period required for the 1st organism to pull itself together would still be 100s of millions of years. to make the leap into much more complex organisms would take exponentially more time. One author talked about the computations for the human eye to ‘spontaniously’ evolve would tax the computing capability of the NSA code breaking computers.
    The hubris of completely rejecting the basic idea that something can’t come from nothing blows my mind. Even if the only gift of an intelligent designer was the basic code of DNA, it would still have had to come from somewhere. I would posit that the universe hasn’t been around long enough for the 1st multi-cellular organisms to have pulled themselves together, much less evolve into what is here today…

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