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

crono 8 years, 5 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.

smith 8 years, 5 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.

KayCee 8 years, 5 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.

Bradley Kemp 8 years, 5 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.

drewdun 8 years, 5 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.

Kodiac 8 years, 5 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.

Kodiac 8 years, 5 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.

Kodiac 8 years, 5 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.

Kodiac 8 years, 5 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.

Chocoholic 8 years, 5 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.

smith 8 years, 5 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.

smith 8 years, 5 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.

smith 8 years, 5 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.

smith 8 years, 5 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.

craigers 8 years, 5 months ago

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

Kodiac 8 years, 5 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.

Kodiac 8 years, 5 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.

Kodiac 8 years, 5 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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