Tuesday, December 19, 2006

1 year since Kitzmiller....

And the so-called 'Discovery Institute' refuses to accept what was a landmark court decision. Rather, they continue to try to spin things. The latest? A press release (which seems to be the only evidence that intelligent design publishes anything...) complaining that "Judge John Jones copied verbatim or virtually verbatim 90.9% of his 6,004-word section on whether intelligent design is science from the ACLU's proposed 'Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law' submitted to him nearly a month before his ruling..." As the people at The Panda's Thumb have already pointed out, just what does 90.9% verbatim mean? It either is or is not.

Let's step back for a moment and recap what happened in Dover, PA last year. Members of the local school board attempted to sneak intelligent design (ID) into a grade school science class (literally by blackmailing the teachers). The teachers and some of the parents filed a lawsuit claiming that this was unconstitutional. Not only did the judge agree with the plaintiffs, but he made a much more profound finding: ID is not science. There were a variety of reasons for this (and the judge's decision makes for VERY interesting reading, at one point noting that the good church-going members of the school board 'repeatedly lied' under oath...), mainly because the designer is pretty well understood to be god and that ID simply produces no Science.

Even the Discovery Institute points out that this copying is actually standard legal procedure anyway, not plagerism. Is it because Judge Jones was lazy or incompetent? Hardly. Was he a mouthpiece for the ACLU, an organization which is dedicated to the preservation of freedoms enjoyed by even those that would seek to trample on them? (Yeah, I'm talking about you Ann Coulter.) As if. This was a conservative judge appointed by George Bush Jr himself. Not a likely candidate for the ACLU's poster child. "But Jones' analysis of the scientific status of intelligent design contains virtually nothing written by Jones himself. This finding seriously undercuts the credibility of a central part of the ruling." That's one possibility, but I'll give you a more likely one: the plaintiffs kicked ass. In fact, they kicked ass so bad that Judge Jones had no reason not to accept the facts of the case as presented by the plaintiffs in its entirety.

If you read Dr. Michael Behe's testimony you can see how much the ID proponents (and the Discovery Institute) embarrassed themselves. Not hard to do, I suppose, when the concept of ID is utterly empty and without any evidentiary support, let alone ridiculous.

Behe's testimony was ridiculous. He has this concept called 'irreducible complexity' that he keeps espousing. It states that if the removal of one part of a system causes that system to cease to function as it does in an organism then the system is said to be irreducible. Sounds good, doesn't it? But Behe limits the scope of functionality to its current function only, ignoring that its constituents may have had other functions in its evolutionary history. The supposed irreducibly complex systems Behe uses as examples, such as the bacterium flagellum, could not have just come together. However, he ignores the possibility that these systems, having other functionality, came together to produce a new function. In essence, Behe makes the usual (irrelevant and invalid) random chance argument, saying that these systems could not be produced in such a way that evolution says cannot have happened anyway! It's just a reformulation of Paley's old and discredited watchmaker argument. For Behe, the final objective (e.g. the bacterium flagellum) must be formed as a whole or not at all. If the removal of one part causes that system to fail, it must have been designed.

Ridiculous. This ignores the fact that apparently complex systems can be created from simpler ones through small steps following a set of rules. It is not all or nothing. It is clear that the bacterium flagellum was formed through small evolutionary changes, co-opting pieces which had other uses, in this case he Type III secretory system.

Anyway, Behe embarrassed himself by admitting on the stand that he had not read any of the Science behind the evolution of these systems. Not much of a scientist is Behe, I'm afraid. Even though his hypotheses have been completely discredited (and I mean shredded, over and over again), he continues to spout this crap.

I saw a book this summer (the title escapes me) and on the jacket it said that there is a quiet controversy in Science over evolution (it was a book on ID, of course). Well, I can tell you for a fact that it is so quiet that it does not exist. Period. ID has published no findings in any credible journal and the best they can do is sway public opinion through un-peer reviewed books and press releases that are pretty much (and correctly) ignored.

Dr. John West, Vice President for Public Policy and Legal Affairs at Discovery Institute's Center for Science and Culture, states that "those who thought the Dover decision would end the debate over Darwinian evolution were obviously wrong. That debate is just as vibrant and vigorous as it ever was, and Darwinists know it." Really? I hadn't noticed. This sounds like those War on Drugs pep talks, with politicians trying to convince themselves of what they're saying in the face of overwhelming evidence to the contrary.

Evolution isn't going anywhere. It's been the backbone of Biology for 150 years and nothing is going change that. Certainly not a bunch of religious hacks trying to couch creation in the guise of pseudoscience.

It's been a year since Kitzmiller. ID is not Science. Get over it.


Konrad Crist said...

A good post. I was fortunate to attend a small part of the Dover trial and count myself fortunate to have been there. I was able to see Bill Buckingham play dumb and so obviously lie on the stand while proclaiming his Christian heritage. I was also able to meet Darwin's great great grandson and several notable people from the media. It was also a pleasure to see good lawyering in action!

I know an ID professor at Messiah College who is a pretty reasonable fellow - not like the IDiots of the DI. He knows Dembski quite well and is very disappointed with him professionally. It will be interesting to see if DI's "Biologic Institute" comes up with anything resembling real research into ID. Somehow I doubt it.

Shamelessly Atheist said...

Thank you. I fortunately live in a country that does not, for the most part, mix religion and politics. The unfortunate fact of our proximity to what is, for all intents and purposes, is a theocracy threatens that. The sum total of all research in ID mounts to nothing more than disingenuous (and erroneous) attacks on the Theory of Natural Selection. As Judge Jones rightly pointed out, saying that one position is wrong and therefor the other is correct is a false dichotomy when there are many possible outcomes. I envy you that you could attend that trial. Hell, I'll settle for being there at Hovinds sentencing. Not that his religious beliefs should be at issue with his IRS problems, but I find such sanctimonious idiots (and he truly is an idiot) getting their comeuppance quite gratifying.