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Archive for Friday, December 1, 2006

Dialogue’ a farce

December 1, 2006

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To the editor:

The Hall Center for the Humanities and the Biodiversity Institute are sponsoring presentations by Michael Behe, proponent of intelligent design theory, as part of their "Difficult Dialogues" series. Thus, Kansas University is providing Behe a platform to espouse his discredited pseudoscientific ideas that engender them with an air of respectability and credibility that they do not deserve.

The idea that there can be a dialogue between scientists at KU and Behe, or any advocate of intelligent design, is worse than a sham; it is a cynical farce. It is cynical because the number of professors appointed to the department of ecology and evolutionary biology who are genuinely interested in a scientific dialogue with Behe is zero. L. Frank Baum's scarecrow is a beloved Kansas icon, but evolutionary biologists have never needed to make an argument against a straw man as a means to inform the public.

John Morris is a faculty member at the Institute for Creation Research (ICR). Morris firmly believes and asserts the Earth is merely a few thousand years old. I am confident that the department of geology will not sponsor a farcical public dialogue about the age of the Earth with Morris. Hopefully, the Biodiversity Institute will not lure Duane T. Gish out of retirement from ICR for a dialogue about his crackpot anti-evolutionary theories that are no less discredited than intelligent design and irreducible complexity.

Walter Dimmick,

Lawrence

Comments

Kodiac 7 years, 4 months ago

"I'm not arguing from any religious or "faith" system (a unrelated bit of rhetorical mudslinging from your position I suppose) - I'm pointing out that many "scientists" are functionally incapable of recognizing that their beliefs come from a philosophical position - one that is inherently self-limiting." -- 75x55

So what philosophical position is not "inherently self-limiting"?

As Logic says, your argument is irrelevant. I disagree with you that most scientists are "funtionally incapable" of recognizing their philosophy. In fact I suspect that you would find a great many scientists who do think about their own beliefs and biases and how it affects their own observations and thought processes.

Humans and anything they do will always be "self-limiting". I think this has nothing to do with the discussion at hand. If you truly wanted a dialogue 75, then give us one instead of making unfounded accusations about a person's belief system. Give us something useful to discuss. As Logic says, find an area of science where you think there might be dogma and and give supporting evidence for it.

Also, you claimed to be not arguing from any kind of "religious" or "faith system" which I find hard to believe. You do have a philosophy do you not 75. Saying you don't have a philosophy or claiming to be removing your philosophy is in of itself a philosophy. No matter how hard you try or lip service you give it, you cannot escape the fact that anything you think about or say will always be in terms of a philosophical position which will always be inherently self-limiting. Are you incapable of recognizing this?

If you want a dialogue then lets have a dialogue....

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logicsound04 7 years, 4 months ago

Forgive me for associating you with "faith", but that will happen when you make statements that equate science with dogma.

At any rate, I'm not talking about individual scientists--over whom I have no control of opinions, methodologies, beliefs, expectations, etc--rather the discipline of science, which, BY DEFINITION is borne out of the scientific method.

MY only point is that Behe's theories are not scientific (that is, based in the scientific method). As far as the "self-limiting" properties of the scientific method, I find that comment irrelevant. Science is only "self-limiting" to the point of preventing every imaginable theory (re: Intelligent Design) as scientific. Name for me one area of research where standards are not imposed in order to ensure a minimum quality of information, THEN we can discuss the "self-limits" of science.

You are correct in your assessment that science has a standard method, but that does not make it "self-limiting". Unless, of course, you consider the fact that ghosts are not within the realm of science a "limit".

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75x55 7 years, 4 months ago

"Your problem is that you try to understand science through the context of religion and belief systems."

Thank you - you illustrated my point perfectly.

Like so many who pour different meanings into the word 'evolution', you cannot see that 'science' is more than just the mechanics of determining answers to questions. It is a philosophical worldview FIRST, from which the PROCESS is determined. 'Science' is not necessarily the equivalent of 'scientific method'.

I'm not arguing from any religious or "faith" system (a unrelated bit of rhetorical mudslinging from your position I suppose) - I'm pointing out that many "scientists" are functionally incapable of recognizing that their beliefs come from a philosophical position - one that is inherently self-limiting.

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Kodiac 7 years, 4 months ago

"Without getting into all the confusion that your statement has, there are many uses of the word "evolution." If one uses it as the explanation of how all things came into existence in a naturalistic sense, then of course it has everthing to do with religion and the existence of God." -- Smith

You are going to have to elaborate here Smith especially on the phrase of "how all things came into existence in a naturalistic sense". What do you mean by this? Are you talking about abiogenesis because evolution does not say anything about abiogenesis. Please state specifically where evolution says anything about religion or the existence of God. It does not. Just because you say it doesn't make your statements "true". Evolution remains as the only scientific explanation for how all contemporary organisms on earth are related to each other through common descent. To put it simply, evolution is descent with modification. There is nothing in here about God or religion. Evolution is simply a tool for humans to understand or organize life from a biological standpoint. This is of course only the tip of the iceberg and which can be explored more fully if you were really interested in something more than your little "soundbites". However I suspect that you don't really want to discuss any of this on a more practical and truthful level since you are being driven from biblical standpoint.

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logicsound04 7 years, 4 months ago

The reason people seem incapable of understanding that fact, 75, is because it makes no sense.

Your problem is that you try to understand science through the context of religion and belief systems. While science does have a set of rules and guidelines to be followed, it is far from dogmatic, because there is no value attached to the results.

The most important difference between science and religion (and the reason you cannot consider science dogmatic) is that science changes its theories in light of new evidence. Religion doesn't even look for new theories, because it has already been decided how the world works and how one should act (dogma).

Focus of science: SEARCHING for the best explanation for the world around us.

Focus of religion: PROMOTING their explanation for the world around us.

Behe's theories cannot be considered science, because he stopped SEARCHING when he arbitrarily DECIDED and began PROMOTING his explanation for the universe.

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Kodiac 7 years, 4 months ago

"There is a huge difference between Paley's watchmaker and Behe's "irreducible complexity." I am beginning to think that you have not really dealt with Behe's thought at all if you really say that." -- Smith

Behe has credited William Paley with the original concept of irreducibly complexity. You don't have to take my word for it, Behe said it himself. There is nothing more to Behe thoughts than an argument from design or complexity. Ludwig von Bertalanffy is another name that is left out when giving credit for this concept. Behe does specifically claim that his his application of the concept to biological systems is entirely original but the idea or concept of argument from design originated with Paley.

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75x55 7 years, 4 months ago

What I find interesting about many of the commentators here is that they themselves do not see how their own philosophy (science) is self-limited. Nothing can exist or be allowed to exist beyond that philosophy's self-defined boundary. That is certainly not 'dialogue', that is unassailable dogma.

And what's more amusing is the fact that so many are literally incapable of understanding that.

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logicsound04 7 years, 4 months ago

"S: How have his ideas been discredited in terms of objective truth?"


His ideas are discredited by his own theories. His theory of "irreduceable complexity" relies on the notion that certain natural occurrences are TOO COMPLEX to explain, and so therefore, must be explained by a creator.

For those of you that are paying attention, that means he is basically using "I don't KNOW how this came to exist, but I have a FEELING as to why".

Behe's use of a "creator" is not wrong in the general sense of the word--it is entirely POSSIBLE that a creator is responsible for the universe. However, until he can provide evidence that passes SCIENTIFIC SCRUTINY for a creator, it has no place in science.

Why is it so hard for the faith community to leave science alone? Why can't the to co-exist in a mutually exclusive relationship? There is no reason to submit people's religious faith to tests of scientific design--what is the point of , just as there is no reason to force science to include notions based in faith--with no proof.

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craigers 7 years, 4 months ago

drewdun, the bible doesn't date how old the earth is.

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smith 7 years, 4 months ago

There is no difference in Behe's "irreducible complexity" concept in intelligent design and Paley's watchmaker analogies in creationism. It is exactly the same concept. These ideas were discredited as being science 200 years ago. Kodiac

S: There is a huge difference between Paley's watchmaker and Behe's "irreducible complexity." I am beginning to think that you have not really dealt with Behe's thought at all if you really say that.

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smith 7 years, 4 months ago

"objective truth"?

What does this mean?

Scientifically, Behe's arguments have been discredited. Kodiac =======================================

S: Again, "objective truth" should not need to be defined each and every time it is used. Behe's arguments have been attacked, and perhaps that might mean discredited to you. But if something is discredited, that does not mean that it is not true. Most ideas are discredited in some sense by those that don't like it at some point. Do you have evidence of people that have in reality presented so much evidence against his position that they can no longer stand? No, some people don't like it and try to discredit it.

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smith 7 years, 4 months ago

Your statement has nothing to do with what Dimmick is talking about. Note that Dimmick says scientific discussion which has nothing to do with "differing beliefs". Also since you do not define what you mean by "proves" and "truth", your statement is simply irrelevant and cannot be discussed in any meaningful way. Kodiac

S: My statement had everything to do with what Dimmick is talking about. Scientific discussion is indeed on differing beliefs or there would be no discussion and there would be no science. Until the doctrine of evolution has many problems and has not answered them. Until that happens, it will continue to be a scientific discussion. The fact that you do not try to discuss things in a meaningful way does not mean that it cannot be. Truth is very easy to define and should not need a definition each time it is mentioned. Truth is that which corresponds to reality and is the way things really are. The word "science" means "knowledge" and without truth there is no knowledge. If science is going to have knowledge, it must be able to talk about truth.

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smith 7 years, 4 months ago

The overall straw man Behe is asserting is labeling evolution as being atheistic. Evolution has nothing to do with religion. Evolution isn't about the existence or non-existence of God. Behe creates the straw man by saying that intelligent design is an alternative theory to evolution. Kodiac

S: Without getting into all the confusion that your statement has, there are many uses of the word "evolution." If one uses it as the explanation of how all things came into existence in a naturalistic sense, then of course it has everthing to do with religion and the existence of God. Some people believe that intelligent design explains how naturalistic evolution could even work at all since naturalistic evolution has no power to do anything at all. One problem is that people speak of evolution as if it has power or force in and of itself.

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scenebooster 7 years, 4 months ago

I believe it was good an right to Mr. Behe as a speaker. I do not agree with him, but that's why it's called a dialogue. Similarly, it represents another forum in which to expose ID for what it is - a farce.

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Chocoholic 7 years, 4 months ago

According to the KU Hall Center for the Humanities Web page:

"The Fall 2006 Difficult Dialogues series aims to engender an informative and civil dialogue about some difficult and volatile issues in American society. The series will present diverse views on the proper roles of reason and faith in the human enterprise, from knowledge discovery to our sense of place and purpose in the universe."

This series is precisely the venue for such a discussion. Behe is just one of several lecturers, each of whom represents a position on the larger spectrum of thought on the subject. The series was well-rounded in that regard.

Kudos to the Hall Center for the Humanities and the Biodiversity Institute for providing such a series in an attempt to further understanding. And kudos to those of you who see it as such. (Note that the Hall Center's involvement as an organization that supports the humanities allows for extension of the discussion outside the realm of "real science.")

It's a pity that these lectures (all of them) were not more prominently publicized. Perhaps it's true that "the number of professors appointed to the department of ecology and evolutionary biology who are genuinely interested in a scientific dialogue with Behe is zero," but I'm betting there are many, many members of the general public who would benefit from hearing this series of lectures as a whole.

Those of you who complain about others' ignorance--stop thinking so hard about how smart you are and at least try help build a bridge for the rest of humanity.

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Clint Gentry 7 years, 4 months ago

It is a shame that this man is allowed to talk. It gives an air of credibility where there is none. Some people use "arrogance" as an argument against real scientists, when in reality it is saying, "I refuse to understand, and the surity of your understanding offends me". Which is obviously not an argument at all, it is just a whine that comes whith not wanting to think to hard.

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Kodiac 7 years, 4 months ago

Smith,

There is no difference in Behe's "irreducible complexity" concept in intelligent design and Paley's watchmaker analogies in creationism. It is exactly the same concept. These ideas were discredited as being science 200 years ago.

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Kodiac 7 years, 4 months ago

"How have his ideas been discredited in terms of objective truth? It appears that many wish to think that certain ideas are discredited simply because many disagree with them." -- Smith

"objective truth"?

What does this mean?

Scientifically, Behe's arguments have been discredited.

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Kodiac 7 years, 4 months ago

"Which proves precisely nothing in terms of what is true and what is not. It might mean that people are simply predjuiced against differing beliefs." -- Smith

Your statement has nothing to do with what Dimmick is talking about. Note that Dimmick says scientific discussion which has nothing to do with "differing beliefs". Also since you do not define what you mean by "proves" and "truth", your statement is simply irrelevant and cannot be discussed in any meaningful way.

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Kodiac 7 years, 4 months ago

"So how is Behe's argument a straw man? So far all Dimmick has done is state his position in a derogatory manner." -- Smith

The overall straw man Behe is asserting is labeling evolution as being atheistic. Evolution has nothing to do with religion. Evolution isn't about the existence or non-existence of God. Behe creates the straw man by saying that intelligent design is an alternative theory to evolution.

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drewdun 7 years, 4 months ago

I believe the earth is only 6,000 years old. If you disagree, you're obviously an arrogant, ivory tower, elitist liberal who hates God. Remember, 6,000 years old. For real.

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Souki 7 years, 4 months ago

The Difficult Dialogues series isn't intended as a dialogue between KU biologists and whomever is brought in to speak. It's intended to cast a much wider net.

That said, Dimmick is correct in saying that there is no dialogue to be had between science and nonscience. In fact, it's impossible, and Behe's ideas are nonscientific.

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KayCee 7 years, 4 months ago

"the number of professors appointed to the department of ecology and evolutionary biology who are genuinely interested in a scientific dialogue with Behe is zero."

I'll agree crono, the quote told it all. If they think they are above his ideas, it is called "arrogance.

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smith 7 years, 4 months ago

Thus, Kansas University is providing Behe a platform to espouse his discredited pseudoscientific ideas that engender them with an air of respectability and credibility that they do not deserve. Dimmick

S: How have his ideas been discredited in terms of objective truth? It appears that many wish to think that certain ideas are discredited simply because many disagree with them.


The idea that there can be a dialogue between scientists at KU and Behe, or any advocate of intelligent design, is worse than a sham; it is a cynical farce. It is cynical because the number of professors appointed to the department of ecology and evolutionary biology who are genuinely interested in a scientific dialogue with Behe is zero. Dimmick

S: Which proves precisely nothing in terms of what is true and what is not. It might mean that people are simply predjuiced against differing beliefs.


L. Frank Baum's scarecrow is a beloved Kansas icon, but evolutionary biologists have never needed to make an argument against a straw man as a means to inform the public. Dimmick

S: So how is Behe's argument a straw man? So far all Dimmick has done is state his position in a derogatory manner.

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crono 7 years, 4 months ago

If Behe wants to dialogue and evolutionary biologists don't, then the latter are responsible for the lack of dialogue, not Behe.

Such arrogance plays greatly into the hands of those who advocate intelligent design.

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i_tching 7 years, 4 months ago

The world is defininately FLAT.

Like I said, defininately.

The evidence is all around us, and for a mere $35K speaking fee I would be glad to offer a half-hour powerpoint presentation, complete with diorama photos showing dinosaurs living among primitive people, that will surely get you thinking.

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