Monday, December 31, 2007

A Litany Of Monumental Blunders

Victor Davis Hanson provides some fascinating historical perspective on the Iraq war "disaster".

Bumper Sticker Idea

From comments here:

I recently saw a bumper sticker that dealt with the idea of "a woman's choice."

My first reaction was to imagine a bumpersticker that just said:

"Sex was the choice."

The Buck Has To Stop Somewhere

Good DaveScot comment:

ID neither requires nor leads to non-natural or non-material causes unless one presumes that intelligent agency is not natural or not material. To say that it does is to construct an ID straw man that is not science then proceed to say why the straw man is not science.

Nothing about the design or assembly of life here on earth requires violation or suspension of any physical laws AFAIK [AFAIK = "as far as I know"]. If you think it does please elaborate on what exactly requires supernatural agency. It appears to require no more than material intelligent agency as no non-intelligent process can be shown capable of design and assembly of complex machinery such as that found in living cells while intelligent agency can be seen to design and assembles complex machinery routinely. In other words it’s an observable fact that intelligent agents can design and assemble complex machinery and pure speculation that anything other than intelligent agency can accomplish the same thing. When I have the luxury of choosing between fact and speculation I usually choose the facts.

This of course raises the question of who designed the designer(s). Without more data that question is simply not answerable. One might just as easily demand the materialist who eschews intelligent agency acting in the history of the universe explain where matter, energy, and physical law originated and if he can’t do that then by default all his material theories are pseudo-science as they rely on materials and laws with unexplained orgins. We can explain what we can explain with the data at hand. Science begins where the data begins and ends where the data ends. A completely material intelligent agent acting completely within the well understood laws of physics could be the designer of life on earth. The data ends there at least for the nonce. We have no data to use to form any hypothesis about the origin of any designers other than ourselves or the origin of any life other than what we have here on earth.

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Beware A Retort That Renders Your Own Position Unfalsifiable

Good observation:

Natural theology and God of the Gaps

Is there any theistic argument that can't be accused of being a god-of-the-gaps argument? Is this an all-purpose reply to all natural theology? If so, then it seems that someone who subscribes to these responses would have to say that there couldn't be enough evidence for God's existence--that atheism is unfalsifiable, because anything that might require theistic explanation could be answered by saying that this is just a gap that naturalism hasn't filled quite yet. So if the stars in the sky were to spell out the words "Turn or burn Parsons this means you" (oops I did it again), and Parsons were to turn, he would be guilty of god of the gaps reasoning.

Also this point from the comments:

Isn't it interesting that those who insist that there really is a spitting difference between "methodological naturalism" and "philosophical naturalism" are always so vehemently opposed to what we might call "methodological designism," insisting that it is but a badly disguised stalking horse for "philosophical designism?"

Saturday, December 29, 2007

If Barbarians Are Those Who Have Lost The Ability To Philosophize, Then We Are Barbarians

Another excellent John C. Wright piece.

And a good quote from the comments to the piece:

Very few people are educated these days; they're trained.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Friday, December 21, 2007

Photo Technique

I learned about the "Orton Effect" a couple of days ago. Here's a photo with the technique applied:

Image Hosted by

Big version here.

Congress's Bright Idea

The compact fluorescent boondoggle.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

The Most Honest Political Ad Ever

The government is Santa. This one is going to backfire.

The Only Real Conspiracy

Great Mark Shea column.

A Morass Of Judicial Sophistry

Some observations concerning the logical structure of the Kitzmiller decision.

The Year Of Global Cooling

The evidential case for Global Warming is not doing so hot. I guess that's why now we're supposed to be worried about "climate change". Lots of interesting info in the article.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Let's Not Confuse What Is Absolutely Basic With That Which Is Derived

John C. Wright:

Back when I was an atheist, I was not a materialist, because there seemed (to me, at least) to be insurmountable philosophical difficulties with the proposition that matter-in-motion was a complete explanation, or even an incomplete but satisfying one, for the mental life of men and animals.

Materialism is an idea, is it not? If materialism is true, at least one idea must be true, and I am aware of it. But if materialism is true, then the material brain-particles of which I am not aware, but which I hypothesize exist, are the real components of the thought, the only reality the thought has: and the thought itself, and my thoughts about the thought (such as my conclusion that it is true) have no necessary truth value.

In other words, by accepting materialism, I am accepting that the things I know directly and without reasonable doubt, without any interposing medium of sense impressions, i.e. my thoughts and my self-awareness, are an illusion or an epiphenomenon whose reality is open to question; but I am also accepting that theoretical particles that I have never seen, i.e. my brain-electrons, are the only reality whose reality I can firmly affirm.

It seems like I am giving up something I know for certain in exchange for a highly doubtful theory based on not a single fact or single bit of evidence about a group of entities whose existence I know only through deduction -- and yet deduction is a type of thinking.


Good comment:

On the question of formal qualifications:

Can someone correct me if I’m wrong? I believe that the only degree that Darwin ever completed was a degree in the humanities. I know he started medical studies, but he dropped out. I think he studied theology also, and he may have graduated, but I think he dropped out of that, too. But I don’t think he ever passed a university exam in biology proper (or whatever it would have been called then — zoology, botany, etc.), despite the fact that he was on the way to becoming one of England’s greatest naturalists when he was still an undergraduate. So when the foes of ID scream loudly that Dembski or Berlinski are “not qualified” to talk about evolution because they are philosophers or mathematicians rather than biologists, a delicious retort is available to us. But as I say, I’d like to be corrected if I misunderstood what I read about Darwin’s academic curriculum vitae.

More generally, I find the anti-ID side hypocritical about qualifications. They’re glad to take help from Ruse or Forrest, who aren’t scientists, or from Matzke, whose highest degree, a Master’s, is in Geography, but they are the first to point out any supporter of ID who is “not qualified” to criticize evolution because his or her degree isn’t in biology. They thus switch back and forth between “credentialism” and “respect for actual knowledge, no matter how acquired”, as it serves their turn. So they can demand that Behe answer grad students like Matzke and Abbie Smith, and not hide behind his credentials, but at the same time they can dismiss the arguments of Meyer, Johnson, etc., without answering them, by pointing out a lack of biological credentials. They make note of Dembski as “not a scientist” but a mathematician, but praise the blogs of Rosenhouse, whose Ph.D. is also in Math and appears to know much less about biology than Dembski. And on the Amazon blog, the only anti-Behe writer with a Ph.D. in biology, Levin I think his name is, who frequently criticizes IDers for lack of knowledge of basic biology, accepts without hesitation the biologically ignorant “help” of a lawyer and a “paleobiologist” (who by his own admission has no graduate degrees and will not point to a single one of his refereed publications). The double standard, or rather shifting standard, in all of this is obvious.

(If any Darwinist is reading this, I double-dog-dare him to reply and say EITHER that Matzke and Ruse and Rosenhouse are unqualified scientific quacks who have no business speaking about Darwinism vs. design, OR that it’s the argument, not the formal training, that matters, and therefore that Dembski and all the other “non-scientists” who support ID deserve a hearing, regardless of their degrees, on the basis of the arguments they offer.)

As for the more general question of autodidacts, that’s not really our main concern here, but for what it’s worth, my impression of autodidacts is that they can be either (1) very impressive, thoughtful individuals who are more worthy of a hearing than many Ph.D.s (I believe that Lincoln, Franklin, Montaigne, Rousseau and Socrates were largely self-taught), or (2) very brittle, combative, picky individuals, frequently concerned more about being “correct” (catching people out on little slips of grammar or arithmetic or historical fact) than about getting to the philosophical heart of a subject, and frequently rather manic hobbyists for some pet cause, be it Ayn Rand, Bacon wrote Shakespeare, atheism, or the like. The latter sort are often verbally very fluent and in a fashion erudite, but the fluidity tends to remind one of diarrhea, and the erudition frequently smells of pedantry, or of facts memorized without deep understanding. The latter type also often write with a cocksure arrogance that many scholars with a greater degree of formal education would eschew; it’s almost as if they feel second-class due to lack of degrees and have to make up for it with bravado. I’ve encountered many such people on listserv groups and I see them blogging on Amazon against Behe etc.

So I’ve found autodidacticism a mixed blessing for the world. Some people aren’t harmed by it at all, and can even become more creative and less hidebound thinkers because of it, whereas other people are so stubborn, contrarian, and lacking in humility by nature, that they desperately need formal education to break down their intellectual pride and teach them well-mannered intellectual discourse. Thus, just as the internet makes a healthy autodidacticism possible, it makes the unhealthiest kinds of autodidact even more insufferable then ever.

Real Life Example Of 'Believe Or Else'

Detailed here. The video is worth watching.

She Thought It Was The Voice Of Porkins


(G)Nat finally wanted to watch Star Wars, and it was on the HD channel, so I sat down to watch the last half. The show gets dumber every time I watch it, but I love it no less. Still, the details do tend to nag after 21953 viewings; I still think they might have reassessed the tactics for the Death Star assault. All right, men, here’s the port you have to hit. A small bomb has to go down this pipe. We will assemble about three miles from the port, run down a heavily defended trench that gives us no room to maneuver and no way to defend ourselves from the obvious rear assault, then fire the bomb perpendicularly. Any questions? You there, Boggs.

That’s Biggs, sir. Why not just fly directly in the direction of the port and shoot straight into it?

I don’t understand your question.

Well, it’s space. We can approach from any angle. Why do we have to fly down a trench for a minute when we could just fire into the hole from above then pull away?

I won’t dignify that with an answer. You there, eating the fried chicken.

Porkins, sir. How much time do we have?

The Death Star will be in position in 30 minutes.

What takes them so long? They got here via hyperspace, crossing vast distances in the blink of an eye, but they materialized on the other side of Yavin so it would take them 30 minutes to get into position?

Stay on subject.

It just seems like they could have blown us up the first minute –

Stay on subject.

Okay. If I die, how will I die?

If struck from the rear, you will grimace and lean forward in your seat as though you had a sudden pang of gas. Good luck, and may the force be with you.

(G)Nat enjoyed it very much, partly because she was watching Star Wars with Dad. For my part, it was hard not to tear up, because I was watching Star Wars with my Child. She had many questions and observations. About Han Solo: “I’m not sure I like him. He’s sorta bad but sorta good.” Bingo. About Luke: “I like him.” About Dark Vader: “He’s evil, right?” Right. About my ability to recite all the dialogue as it happened: “Dad, be quiet” About the Death of Porkins: “He’s dead, right?”

About the voice of Obi-Wan telling Luke to use the Force: She thought it was the ghost of the fat guy who just blew up. She thought it was the voice of Porkins. That really would change the entire story, wouldn't it.

About the Princess “with the buns on her head” – she asked if she as the only girl in Star Wars, and I said no, of course not. But in the first movie, she is. Aside from a few extras and Aunt Baru, it’s a man’s game.

About the death of Obi-Wan: “where did he go?” Darth Vader had the same question, kid. About Luke’s decision to shout out BEN! Upon seeing his mentor killed, thereby alerting the otherwise diverted storm-troopers: “well that was stupid.”

She liked Chewbacca and R2D2. I pointed out how Chewie didn’t get a medal at the end, and she said it was totally unfair. She also noted Leia’s rather suggestive leaning-and-lips-parting bestowal of the medal, and said “Mushy.”

Someday we’ll watch some more. Together. I don’t want her to find about Jar-Jar on the street, or hear about him from her peers. I want to be there to guide her.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

"There Is No God, And I Am His Prophet!"

Lifted that quip from this Mark Shea piece. It admirably sums up the all-too-common attitude of the arrogant, doctrinaire, condescending, internet atheist.

A Little Unclear On The Concept

Last time I checked the Constitution it didn't say anything about scientists having plenary power. Some people don't seem to understand this:

P.Z. Myers: Darwinists Know What’s Best for Your Children

P.Z. Myers recently put up another post supporting censorship of criticism of Darwinism in public education. Democratically elected school board officials in Florida and Texas are moving closer to policies that would include teaching students that some aspects of Darwin’s theory can be questioned scientifically. In other words, they’re proposing that Darwinism can be taught just like any other scientific theory. Florida State School Board Member Linda Taylor put it this way:

I would support teaching evolution, but with all its warts. I think that some of the facts have been questioned by evolutionists themselves. I would want them taught as theories. That's important. They could be challenged by others and the kids could then be taught critical thinking and they can make their own choices.

Myers calls Ms. Taylor’s opinion “stupid”. He asks:

Who is best qualified to make informed choices about complex scientific theories? A. Scientists with years of training in the subject, and qualified science teachers who understand the fundamentals of the theory. B. Creationists who won't even commit to an estimate of the age of the earth. C. Members of the board of education who have absolutely no training in the sciences. D. Children who are just being introduced to the topic for the first time, haven't read any of the primary literature, and who are entirely dependent on the competence of the instructors who have given them an outline of the general story.

Because this is a democracy and Myers doesn’t actually get to dictate the choices, the question is really ‘fill in the blank,’ not multiple choice.

Here’s my suggestion for the answer to the question "Who is best qualified to make informed choices about complex scientific theories in public schools in Florida?":

The people of Florida, through their elected school boards.

Darwinists like Myers find democracy so frustrating.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Show Me The Money

Gil Dodgen:

Why Mathematicians, Computer Scientists, and Engineers Tend to be More Skeptical of Darwinian Claims

Larry Moran’s presentation in a comment in Granville Sewell’s UD post, I found not particularly persuasive, for the following reasons. I’m not interested in definitions of science; I’m interested in how stuff actually works. I’m perfectly amenable to being convinced that the complexity, information content, and machinery of living systems can be explained by stochastic processes filtered by natural selection, and I would not even demand hard evidence, just some rigorous argumentation based on the following:

1) A particular aspect of any living system that displays a machine-like function (such as a ribosome).

2) Some specifics about what random genetic changes (of any type) would be required to engineer intermediate forms.

3) A reasonable estimate about the likelihood of these random changes occurring.

4) Another reasonable estimate about the likelihood of the hypothetical intermediate forms providing a statistically significant survival value.

5) Some kind of evidence or even reasonable conjecture that the number of individuals and reproductive events could provide the requisite probabilistic resources. Appeals to “deep time” are irrelevant.

These are the kinds of challenges that those of us involved in mathematics, computer science, and engineering tend to present, and the kinds of questions we tend to ask, because we must demonstrate that our stuff can actually work in the real world, or at least that it has a reasonable prospect of working in the real world. That’s why many of us tend to be skeptics.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

The Ravings Of A Third-Rate Intellect

I'd never seen this excerpt before (just the beginning snippet). But what would the author of the most important and revolutionary scientific work of all time know? Folks, let's keep "F=ma" and calculus, but throw out the diseased ravings that obviously come from a confused, superstitious, irrational mind.

In reality, Newton writes very well and profoundly on this topic. I wonder why I've never heard that this was contained in The Principia? Materialists only tend to quote the beginning of the excerpt, but never the rest. I guess it's just a coincidence.

From a slightly different angle, this is a good post.

Hah! You Are A Christian!! I Knew It! That Means You Can't Do Science!!!

William Dembski was interviewed by This was part of the interview:

4. Does your research conclude that God is the Intelligent Designer?

I believe God created the world for a purpose. The Designer of intelligent design is, ultimately, the Christian God.

The focus of my writings is not to try to understand the Christian doctrine of creation; it’s to try to develop intelligent design as a scientific program.

No doubt the usual suspects will pick this up like Palestinians do the entrails of slain Israeli soldiers and have themselves a merry little jig with it. Of course, they'd be equally justified and civilized in doing so.

Immediately one of them pipes in in the comments:

Silly old me, I was always under the impression that ID was cold, hard science. ID had nothing to do with god. Time and time again Demski and others have denied religious motive. Oh well, guess I was wrong.

More interestingly, is the fact that the book, presents nothing more then the old ID arguments [as if the old arguments had ever been adequately answered].

PZ Myers (gasp!) says “I’ve got the book he’s talking about, and I’m partway through it. It ain’t convincing. It’s the same old bluster that Wells and Dembski have been pounding their fists over for the last decade; there’s absolutely nothing new in it, just more rehashed chest-thumping from failed religious revolutionaries; I predict it will die a rapid death, simply because the IDers haven’t been able to come up with anything we haven’t already heard multiple times, and that has failed every time to convince anyone in the biology community with a scrap of sense”

A commenter named kairosfocus then lays out a very good response:

First, before accusing us of “Creationist” tactics of attacking the man, kindly first examine the behaviour of leading philosphers and scientists on the evolutionary materialist side of the ID debates:

Exhibit 1: Ms Barbara Forrest, in her presentations and claims at Dover and in related book and speeches etc. She insistently will not even get the basic defintion of ID straight, nor can she seem to distinguish between a worldview level opinion and a scientific statement.

Exhibit 2: Mr Richard Dawkins’ notprious and insisted upon asserion that those who differ with his evolutionary materialism are ignorant, stupid, insane or wicked.

Also, I think you need to do your homework first before coming to the site here and demanding that we drop a discussion while we bring you up to speed on the points and issues, ins and outs of the debate over ID.

I suggest that for starters you could try reading the IDEA site’s FAQs and primers.

My own introductory summary on the issue from my own information theory and stat thermo-D based take on the issue — which is always linked to my posts through my handle — may also be helpful in seeing why for instance AussieID confidently observes that the old arguments had yet to be properly addressed by PeeZed [BTW that’s how we read it over in the Caribbean, too.]

On the issue of Dr Dembski’s statement:

1] I, too, would have preferred a more cautious, hard to twist wording; given the known hostile rhetorical context.

2] But then, let us remember there are other sides the the overall issue than just science. On science, Dr Dembski is in his own right a PhD level mathematician with serious skill, experience and knowledge in areas relevant to the empirically based inference to design from complex, specified information.

3] Equally, he is a PhD level philosopher and holds an MDiv in Theology. So, on a worldviews level, comparative difficulties based assessment across live options, he has every qualification and right to stand up as an academic and state his own broader conclusions; which doubtless contribute to the fact that he is a Christian.

4] Having said all of that, this is likely to become a re-hash of the situation where Ms Forrest twisted Dr Dembski’s earlier remark on the link between the scientific programme of ID and the theology of the LOGOS in Jn 1, where “in the beginning was THE WORD.” That is, he adverted to the fact that the Christian worldview has always been that Information and Reason Himself are foundational to and informed the origin and structuring of reality as we experience it.

5] Science now empirically supports that. [cf my always linked on pervasiveness of information, on OOL, on body plan level biodiversity and on the fine-tuned organised complexity of the life facilitating cosmos we inhabit.]

6] So, a fully qualified research-level Scholar who happens to be a Christian has every right to observe based on his professional level work, that this rather risky claim made ever so long ago by one of the theological founders of the Christain faith, circa 90 - 95 AD, has been astonishingly supported by empirical scientific findings over the past 50 or so years.

7] To see the force of that, consider what evo mat advocates would be saying if it had tuned out that life did not exhibit functionally specified, fine-tuned complexity at cellular levels, or that body-plan level innovations were not based on huge injections of information [not to mention appearing characteristically suddenly in the fossil record, e.g the Cambrian revolution], or that the physics of the cosmos was not fine-tuned etc. (Ms Forrest’s stragatems read like “heads I win, tails you lose” rhetorical tactics to me!)

8] As to motivation changing [with hints of hidden agendas], I simply point out that when one does science as science, one argues to best, empirically well-warranted best explanation. Here, one knows that chance, necessity and agency all act as causal factors. So, on IBE, which factor[s] best explain[s] OOL, body plan diversity and cosmological fine tuning?

9] So soon as one imposes methodological naturalism as a cut-off to the obvious best explanation for CSI, agency, one is on question-begging philosophical grounds. The rebuttal to that is a philosophical exercise [as is addressed and further linked on in my always linked].

10] So phil is inherently a part of the issue, and so also, the worldviews which phil sets out to analyse. In that broader context, Dr Dembski is perfectly in order to state his considered, empirically anchored wordview level, theistic opinion and conclusion.

11] That is not a matter of motivation-level bait and switch tactics, but instead it is a mature reflection on the wider issues implicated in scientific research programmes — which as Lakatos reminds us, have a belt of theories and the like surrounding a worldview level core.

Yeah, whatever kairosfocus. Dembski is a Christian! So he's obviously wrong about everything!

Another good comment:

I have not yet read the book, and so how can I, or anybody else here who has not read it, answer your question?

If you want to know if I am surprised that PZ Myers did not like the book, well, I am not surprised. Guess why?

I don’t know if the book gives new arguments. Probably not, because it seems to be a summary of the presently known arguments, and of course I think that we, on this blog, should know them well. But that’s not true of everybody.

What Myers calls “the same old bluster that Wells and Dembski have been pounding their fists over for the last decade” are in reality the strict and absolutely convincing arguments of ID. They are true, strong, scientific and undeniable. They have never been really addressed by Myers and the like of him.

About Dembski’s inconsistency. I don’t think Dembski is inconsistent. If you read all his writings, including the theological ones, it is pretty clear that he has always believed that the designer is the Christian God. That’s his opinion, and he has a right to it. If he feel like expressing that opinion in an interview, I respect his right, although he could probably have made some more clear distinctions.

But Dembski is not the leader of a movement, so his opinions are just that: his opinions. His scientific work, instead, belongs to us all, and is in no way dependent on his opinions.

You cite: “ID research is carried out “without speculating about the nature of the intelligence.” That’s true. It has always been true, and will always stay true. The great lie of darwinists is that a scientific research may be disqualified by “motivations”. Scientific arguments are disqualified only by errors, not by motivations. Science is about the research for truth. If a researcher, for his own beliefs, is convinced that truth is in some way, and he investigates reality to verify if some hypothesis, compatible with his general view of reality, may explain scientific facts better than another one, that does not disqualify his work in any way, if his work is scientifically sound.

This game of accusing people because of their “motivations” is really bad. It is not only anti-scientific, but also against any principle of respect of human values. Motivation are absolutely personal, and should not be used to criticize actions. Please, Myers and co, have the courage to criticize actions and ideas for their own merit, and not for “motivations”. I will never criticize Myers if, let’s say, he reaches some great scientific acoomplishment (not likely, but possible), only because he is an atheist and probably his atheism is a strong motivation of his actions. Or some other because he accomplishes his research only for the love of money, ot to be liked by girls. If their accomplishment are scientifically good, I am not interested in their motivations.

So, Dembski has done a terrific work in science. His analysis of CSI and of design inference is of fundamental importance to contemporary thought, and not only to biology. If his christian faith has been his motivation, I am very happy of that. If he feels like declaring it, he is welcome.

ID is not a political movement. It is science. Dembski is not a leader. He is a very respected thinker. I love his scientific work, and respect his theological work, but I am interested only in the former, not in the latter.

Ah, and please, when you become aware of some “new” argument from PZ, please let me know. I have become a litlle bit tired of his old non-arguments.

And this one by StephenB:

——alext: “in Dembski’s case, he’s approaching science from an extremely assumption based point of view, and the interview pretty much hammers home the point that Dembski is approaching science with a conclusion already in mind. this is extremely important.”

Excuse me, but this is total nonsense. He did not say that the the Creator “is” the Christian God.

You have to wonder what has happened to free speech in the western world when a man cannot even make a simple declaration of faith without getting all of this flak. What exactly would you folks have him do when someone asks for a straight answer to a straight question? Is this your scenario: “Well, gosh , if I tell the truth, one of my psychotic enemies will maliciously take the quote out of context and use it to develop another conspiracy theory, so I better just either shut up or lie.” Or, how about this: “If I give an honest answer, someone will say, ‘aha, I told you ID wasn’t really science.’” Now there comes a time when all this idiocy has to stop. We really do need to transcend all this political correctness and start looking at the big picture.

Truth comes to us as a hierarchy. Theological truth illuminates philosophical truth, which in turn, illuminates scientific truth. So naturally, one would expect to find, as WAD [Dembski] does, some similarities between sound theology and sound science. Indeed, in his case, he is qualified to comment on the matter in an official capacity because he is an expert in all the relevant areas. His educated opinion (not his scientific conclusion) is that the same God who reveals himself in Scripture also revealed himself in nature. In other words—scandal of scandals—his world view hangs together.

Competing against him and his coherency, we find the very popular, media friendly scientists who posit the “schizophrenic” perspective concerning the relationship between theology and science. I won’t mention any names, but you all know who they are. Let’s call them the Christian Darwinists. They want their God and their Darwin too; but they want a quiet God and a loud Darwin. To believers they say, “Hey, I am a Christian.” leaving the convenient impression they believe in a purposeful, mindful creator. To the academy they say, “Don’t worry, I am first and foremost a Darwinist, so I really believe in a purposeless, mindless process that has no need of a creator. I you don’t believe me, just watch how I slander and smear the ID people.” Not only are these people doing a disservice to the public, they are doing bad science.

To do good science is to take a risk, to subject one’s world view to the test. Thus, the ID scientist opens up the investigation to allow for the possibility that his world view is in error—to take the intellectual gamble that those among you who are committed to agnosticism, or enthusiastic about extra-terrestrials, or attracted to immanent agencies, or settled on a Deistic God may be on to something—that you are right and that he is wrong. Thus, he is on your side because he is ready to go where the evidence leads, even if it goes in your direction. In fact, WAD has stated publicly, that he may be wrong. Have you ever heard anything like that from his ideological competitors? Neither Creation scientists nor Darwinists will provide you with that same open investigation; both have decided, in advance, what the answer is going to be. CS has decided that the Creator is the Trinitarian God—no matter what; methodological naturalism has decided that such a God, or any god for that matter, simply cannot be—no matter what.

Thus, we have a man who A) believes that the God created the universe and B) has developed a scientific method that can help illuminate the matter either way. By stating both points without apology, he is teaching the world that strong faith is no detriment to good science. He has counted the cost in advance, which is exactly what his faith asks of him. Clearly, none of the other great Christian scientists of the past allowed anyone to intimidate them. Can you imagine Sir Isaac Newton saying, “Wow, I had better back off from all this God talk, Barbara Forrest has been keeping a journal on me.” Good grief! If we don’t learn this lesson and get it settled here and now, good scientists will be walking around on egg shells for the next hundred years. Wise up folks!

The whole comment thread is pretty good.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Slideshow Test

I just stumbled across something that lets you display flickr slideshows on websites or blogs. Coincidentally, I've also recently updated my "Best Photos" set. Seems like a neat little utility.

Created with Admarket's flickrSLiDR.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

If I'd Have Done This When I Was Growing Up, I Would Have Been Slapped By The Friend's Mom, Then Spanked By My Own

Spare the rod, spoil the child:

Why you MUST be brave enough to tell off other people's children in your home

Should you ever tell off other people's children? Not so long ago, no one would have even asked this question - most reasonable adults would have thought the answer such an obvious and emphatic "Yes!"

The fact that we dither over it now, and - if we say "yes" - qualify it with all sorts of provisos, illustrates just how far down the road we have come in letting our children rule.

The question has troubled me lately because of the behaviour of a particular child. Such is the state of modern manners that, like most mothers, I am not easily shocked.

No messing! Don't be afraid to put other people's children in their place when in your home, a behaviour expert advises

I know plenty of children who barge across the threshold unbidden, who demand food and sweets, who jump on the furniture and respond to an invitation to stay to tea with, "What are you having?" rather than, "Yes, please" or "No, thank you".

But this boy, aged nine, appalled even me. He had come to play with my son Tony, who is eight, and he approached the tea table and the scrambled eggs on toast he had requested with a swagger and declared: "Yuck, I'm not eating that! Do you always burn the toast?"

There was no obvious excuse for this rudeness: the toast may have been half a shade darker than he likes it, but it certainly wasn't burnt. He's an infrequent visitor so you couldn't argue that familiarity explained the contempt.

But despite the fact that his sheer cheek, arrogance and rudeness astonished me, I let it go...

Good move. You wouldn't want to be sued by the angel's parents, or maybe arrested.

Great Quip


HEH: From the comments to this post: "The MSM interprets truth as damage, and routes around it."

The 6.4 Trillion Dollar Question

From here:

"Between the coordinated agendas, discount window collateral changes, invisible hands, superfund conduits, sub-prime bailout plans and now, the biggest act of international economic cooperation since the 9/11 terrorist attacks, you can't help but wonder what the heck the Fed sees that the markets, 5% off their highs, have yet to price in?"

Monday, December 10, 2007

Friday, December 07, 2007

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Chestertonesque Tour De Force

Pretty amazing stuff for a blog post. Too much excellent writing to excerpt. The post is by John C. Wright, science fiction author and former atheist.

Update: Corrected the link.

The Tides Of Darkness


Also from the same cartoonist:

Excerpts From Romney Speech On Religion

Good stuff.

Bring 'Em Home, Then

"The War is twice as popular as Congress."

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Well Said

From this post, and from a subsequent comment:

Meanwhile, last and best of all, over at the Post-Darwinist, I received a comment to this post**, to which I replied:

You said, “Opponents of ID complain about the lack of empirical research and evidence to back up ID - and, to be honest, they have a point. There isn’t a lot to show yet.”

With respect, you seem to have missed the point. Gonzalez WAS doing research that furthered ID. His research on galactic habitable zones - an area in which he is considered expert - was turning up inconvenient facts about the favourable position of Earth and its moon for life and exploration.

In other words, when Carl Sagan said that Earth is a pale blue dot lost somewhere in the cosmos, he was simply incorrect. But he represents “science”, right?

Gonzalez is correct - but he represents “religion”, supposedly.

So an incorrect account of Earth’s position is science and a correct account is religion?

Oh, but wait a minute - the next move will be the claim that whatever Gonzalez demonstrated doesn’t prove anything after all, and even talking about it is “religion”, which is not allowed - so bye bye career.

We may reach the point in my own lifetime when one really must turn to religion (”religion?”) in order to get a correct account of basic facts about our planet and to science (”science”?) for propaganda and witch hunts.


Stand up, Denyse, and continue standing up in spite of any tendency to despair as you contemplate a worldview in its death-throes.

You may well wonder how it is possible that genial crackpots like Carl Sagan and Paul Davies are welcomed with open arms in academia and given generous access to PBS and the Times while someone who makes an eminently reasonable inference of design from the fine-tuning of the universe is excluded as if he were some sort of freak.

The reason is that Modernism (and its rear-guard movement, Postmodernism) has obtained institutional status and become impervious to reason. If you think you are alone in your despair, consider those on the liberal arts side who must now endure an endless barrage of smug nihilism from hordes of self-absorbed dilettantes who obtained tenure by parroting the party line.

But the hardening of party lines can also be seen as a harbinger of better things to come. The same academics who thought of themselves as radicals and lovers of freedom thirty years ago have now become reactionaries, as the famous emails make clear. And at that point the difference between dogma and reality becomes too obvious to ignore.

The old paradigm is already dead. The intransigence you identified is restricted to a few small and shrinking islands. We may feel frustrated by the dogmatism of the universities and the media, but old bastions of materialism like the Times and PBS are rapidly losing influence for that very reason—because they are unable to change.

They are hardening their lines of defense, but they cannot stop the change that is being wrought through discoveries in basic science. Materialism cannot stand for long when it must manufacture multiple universes in order to account for the orderliness of our own. The same weight that makes its intransigence possible will also cause it to topple over.

Freethinking Will Not Be Tolerated

The latest move by those who would impose ideological/religious straitjackets detailed and critiqued here.

Objectivity Deeply In Question

The only thing Darwinists have in their court is institutional inertia. Because they do not have the facts on their side they cannot pound on the facts. All they can do is pound on the table. Exiled From Groggs:

(H/T Evolution News)

Adam Rutherford, of Nature, believes that your presuppositions determine your ability to do science.

...were I in a position to offer Guillermo Gonzalez tenure, I would deny it for the precise reason that his, yes, religious views about purpose in the universe explicitly mean he is a crap scientist, regardless of his ability to generate valid data...

From which it is logical to infer that he thinks that Kepler, Newton, Galileo, Copernicus, Maxwell ... are also "crap scientists".

Hmm. Now I have one of two options, here. Option one is to conclude that he is right, and that all of these people are crap scientists because of their presuppositions. Option two is to conclude that he is a crap journalist, and no serious journal should be employing him (... and any journal that does employ him is thus not serious). Now let me think ....

It's refreshing to have the real issues laid on the table.

And, hey, what could be more obvious than the fact that recognition of final causes blinds one to efficient, material, and formal causes? It's in your Aristotle, people!

Or what could be more obvious than that only those who embrace universal futility can make progress?

The Future Lies Ahead

Here's a screencap of how Hot Air introduced this one:

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Here's the link.

"Do You Give Up So Easily About Jesus?"

The Anchoress highlights the conversion story of an Iraqi Muslim woman to Catholicism.

In My Own Backyard

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Big versions here.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

It's Clear As Day

From a comment (commenter is pro-ID) here:

ID is not science, because there’s been no research done on it, and anybody that researches it is not doing science because ID is not science because there’s been no research done on it, and anybody that researches it is not doing science because ID is not science because there’s been no research done on it, and anybody that researches it is not doing science because ID is not science because there’s been no research done on it…

I surely don't enjoy fever dreams that keep turning back on themselves. I don't know why Darwinists do.

Update: Contempt-filled comments lose the struggle for survival on this blog. If I want to read Darwinist tantrums I already know where to find them...

Human Interest Story

Morbidly obese woman finds acceptance due to internet anonymity, loses 500 pounds. I found this kind of moving.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Feliz Navitoss

Well done. I'd also have to say that it bugs the heck out of me more and more each year that our culture celebrates Christmas incessantly during Advent and nothing during Christmas.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Great Insights

Gagdad Bob does it again.

A Wider View

Nicely written essay about how political disagreements are often based on the thin gruel of facts which one of the sides regards as constituting being "fully informed". Of course it's also something of a chicken or egg problem. Some folks really don't want to be fully informed.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Catholic Convert SF Writer Gives Phillip Pullman What For

A great read.

Serious Old School

This. H/T Peeve Farm.

Standard Operating Procedure

Ours is a Republican nation. This is obvious from the fact that our elections are about 50-50 despite non-stop subterfuge of this nature:

JOHN FUND EMAILS THIS on the CNN debacle. From's Political Diary:

Last week, CNN's Anderson Cooper quipped in an interview with that “campaign operatives are people too” and that CNN wasn’t worried if political partisans posed questions at the upcoming GOP debate he was moderating. “We don’t investigate the background of people asking questions (by submitting video clips). It’s not our job,” is how he put it.

But now CNN’s logo has egg splattered all over it, as it scrambles to explain how a co-chair of Hillary Clinton’s veterans’ committee was allowed to ask a video question on gays in the military at Wednesday’s debate and was also flown by the network from California to the debate site in Florida so he could repeat his question to the candidates in person. CNN claims it verified retired Brig. Gen. Ketih Kerr’s military status and checked his campaign contribution records, contradicting Mr. Cooper’s blasé attitudes. Still, they somehow missed his obvious connection to the Hillary campaign which any Google search would have turned up. CNN later airbrushed Mr. Kerr’s question out of its rebroadcast of the debate, indicating that it apparently doesn’t think “campaign operatives” are legitimate questioners at the network’s debates.

Now it appears that an amazing number of partisan figures posed many of the 30 questions at the GOP debate all the while pretending to be CNN’s advertised “undecided voters.” Yasmin from Huntsville, Alabama turns out to be a former intern with the Council on American Islamic Relations, a group highly critical of Republicans. Blogger Michelle Malkin has identified other plants, including declared Obama supporter David Cercone, who asked a question about the pro-gay Log Cabin Republicans. A questioner who asked a hostile question about the pro-life views of GOP candidates turned out to be a diehard John Edwards supporter (and a slobbering online fan of Mr. Cooper). Yet another “plant” was LeeAnn Anderson, an activist with a union that has endorsed Mr. Edwards.

It seems more “plants” are being uprooted with each passing day. Almost a third of the questioners seem to have some ties to Democratic causes or candidates. Another questioner worked with Democratic Senator Dick Durbin’s staff. A former intern with Democratic Rep. Jane Harman asked a question about farm subsidies. A questioner who purported to be a Ron Paul supporter turns out to be a Bill Richardson volunteer. David McMillan, a TV writer from Los Angeles, turns out to have several paens to John Edwards on his YouTube page and has attended Barack Obama fundraisers.

Given CNN’s professed goal to have “ordinary Americans” ask questions at their GOP debate, how likely is that it was purely by accident that so many of the videos CNN selected for use were not just from partisans, but people actively hostile to the GOP’s messages and candidates?

(Emphasis added). It makes it kind of hard to trust CNN.

More rounded up here, including this comment:

So let me get this straight... in the Democrat YouTube debates, the "undecided questioners" are Democratic activists and in the Republican YouTube debates, the "undecided questioners" are Democratic activists.

Well, at least they're consistent.


Typical religion of peace foolishness.

Perhaps It Is Because They Don't View Politics As Therapy

Article: "Republicans Report Much Better Mental Health Than Others".

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Other Than That, Mr. Hewittt, How Did You Like The Debate?

Hugh Hewitt:

I took to calling CNN "the most busted name in news" during the Eason Jordan meltdown in early 2005. Since then it has grown addicted to Lou Dobbs' pseudopopulism while maintaining an hilariously lefty attitude towards most news. The networks two best talents, Wolf Blitzer and Anderson Cooper, are surrounded by a cast of agenda-journalists who, like Penelope unweaving her tapestry each night, undo each day all the good work that Blitzer and Cooper attempt to accomplish. CNN isn't a cartoon network, but a network of cartoon figures like Jack Cafferty and Dobbs pretending to be objective journalists. Now we have proof positive that the backroom producers are as biased as Cafferty and Dobbs.

Last night's fiasco was so thorough that it will take a while to settle in just how damaging it was to CNN's reputation as a news organization. From the awful judgment displayed with the opening guitar serenade through the preposterous selection of topics and questions right to the stark reality that CNN either was easily and completely manipulated by the Dems with planted question after planted question or were totally complicit in the hijacking of a Republican debate designed to serve Republican primary voters about who ought to be the Republican nominee. The network is either incompetent in a way no serious news organization should be, or wholly captured by agenda journalists of the left.

No serious anchor would want to be where Cooper is today, at the center of a vast train wreck which cannot be explained away as the inevitable result of the sudden appearance of big news in a difficult setting, as with hysterical Katrina coverage of bodies stacked in freezers and gun fights in the Superdome, or the result of the input of bad data, as with the early call of Florida for Gore in 2000.

No, this premeditated mediocrity. The network had months to prepare and consider and execute. But even with all that time, it lacked the minimal talent necessary to produce a serious debate about important issues using new technology. All it could deliver was a carnival of bad taste, trick questions, and full frontal left wing bias.


Take a look-see at this Vista error message.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Guardrails Do Not Limit Freedom Of Motion

Very good Gagdad Bob post prompted by a Chesterton quote.

Maybe It Does Make A Difference

The Anchoress highlights some very interesting reflections from a liberal priest upon presiding at his first Tridentine Mass.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving

I'll be posting again on Monday, 11/26.

Monday, November 19, 2007

If They Are Right, I Don't See How I Could Know It, Just Listening To Them

I'm in agreement with this guy (at least about the credibility of Behe's critics):

Talk.reason essay on Behe,, and Panda’s Thumb, here.

The problem with all this material is that I don’t trust it, and demand an independent arbiter. Once these people start bashing Behe, their credibility falls. The question of Behe’s book is complex, and I hold no brief for the misuse of ID in what is essentially an argument stretching back to Michael Denton. But Behe’s argument can easily survive its undoubted mistakes, especially mistakes generated from his manner of going too far with design thinking. It needs to be properly critiqued, and this the Darwin group is incapable of doing, because their own prior mistakes are far greater.

The fact of the matter is that Darwin defenders are completely untrustworthy in their Behe bashing tactics, and it is not just Behe. We cannot take anything they say at face value, the more so as the sophmoric ad hominem abuse comes forth. These tactics are under suspicion of being intimidation tactics from those whose position has a basic weakness [that] its proponents are compelled to hide behind shouting tactics and ridicule. And if this ridicule is effective, who will risk their career fighting this club of dogmatists?

Behe is commended for admitting to mistakes. Can we ever suspect the same from Darwinists? Clearly not. They are entrenched establishment, and no one can challenge their lies without suffering the fate of Behe.

Darwinism is not science because it is not falsifiable. It is not falsifiable, because there will be hell to pay for anyone who even dares to attempt a falsification. Nothing could be more obvious.


From comments here:

“The logician seeks to make everything lucid, and succeeds in making everything mysterious. The mystic allows one thing to be mysterious, and everything else becomes lucid.”

--G.K. Chesterton

I'm Glad It's Not Me

Ask Dr. Helen quotes a commenter:

My sister and brother-in-law are D.C. area residents and wear their politics on their sleeves. I quit arguing with them some 20 years ago when they stated that Reagan was responsible for the Yellowstone Park forest fires. I realized then I could not have a rational discussion with them.

The problem I have with this stuff is that my brother-in-law starts yelling. Who wants to converse with someone who’s attracting attention from all the other diners in a restaurant. I finally decided that he doesn’t really want a reasoned conversation. He just wants to shout down anyone who disagrees with him, so why bother?

My dad is as mean as a snake. All 8 of his kids bear the scars and deal with them in different ways. The last time I saw him was 5 years ago at the rehearsal dinner for my younger brother’s wedding. He was picking on my niece, and she not being used to that treatment slapped him in the face. I told my Dad to knock it the f—k off. He took exception and we started a fistfight in the restaurant. My dad was so bent out of shape that somebody stood up to him that he didn’t show up for the wedding, and I gladly stood in for him, next to my Mom, in all of the wedding pics.

I cherish Christmas with my family: A day with the estrogen poisoned females of my clan; children yelling and grubbing for the bounty that comes with the crass commercialism of the holiday; the ever present fear that my brother, four Christmases banished from the family for alcohol related lunacy, will crash his drunken, six foot, four inch body through the front door and spray the room with lead. Ah, Christmas! I strap an Officer’s Compact Colt .45 into a pancake holster on my hip in case the door comes off its hinges at the party, pack up my hastily purchased gifts, and I wade into this thing called Christmas. Ho, ho, ho, who wouldn’t go?

Through the years of Republican bashing followed by Kumbaya sing alongs (I kid you not), I have found the best strategy is to simply keep my mouth shut.

The Numbers Tell The Story

Some very interesting metrics.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

She Who Outlasted Rome Needs To Accept Gracefully The Advice Of The LA Times

American Thinker scrutinizes an LA Times editorial which attempts to instruct the Pope about the true path of wisdom.

News Flash: Naziism Not A Product Of Christianity

Excellent essay about how Christianity had already radically declined in Germany, allowing the Nazis to come to power. The piece has plenty of telling quotes from contemporary sources. It'll hopefully be awhile before somebody declares that the decline of atheism is what allowed Stalin to take power.

10 Crashes That Changed Aviation

Interesting roundup.


Flying in a jetliner is extraordinarily safe: There has been only one fatal crash in the United States in the past five years, an astounding record considering that more than 30,000 flights take off every day. How did flying get so reliable? In part, because of accidents that triggered crucial safety improvements. Here are eight crashes and two emergency landings whose influence is felt—for the good—each time you step on a plane.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Which Part Of "I'm Paying $900,000 To Live In Vacaville" Did You Not Get?

Highlighted in this housing bubble blog post:

The San Francisco Chronicle. “Vacaville, in eastern Solano County, was long an affordable alternative for home buyers who didn’t mind a long commute to the inner Bay Area. But that market has changed substantially within months.”

“Larry St. John bought a home for more than $900,000 early this year in a new development on the city’s northwest side. This weekend, St. John said the builder - DeNova Homes - is planning an auction of more than a dozen similar homes, with starting bids about $300,000 less than what recent buyers paid.”

“‘This is huge, this is our biggest investment,’ said St. John. ‘I can understand a corporation taking losses to stay in business, but an individual taking a $300,000 hit is not something I have the capacity to do.’”

“As a homeowner in the Bay Area, ‘every couple of years you have an opportunity to refinance and do some improvements and still have equity,’ St. John added. ‘If you’re starting off from a position of negative $300,000, that takes more than a few years to rectify.’”

Craptastic Suckitude

Vista. Good Brian Tiemann post. Also take a look at these amusing Mac vs PC ads.

"Tell The Christians To Come Home To Their Country Iraq"

An excellent, hope filled post by Michal Yon (with plenty of photos).

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Since All Religions Are The Same, You Definitely Don't Want To Be A Christian

Is there anything that Washington post reporters don't know?

Sound As A Pound

Take a look at this. What was the catastrophe that started in 1914? That's when the Federal Reserve began operations. And it's still going strong!

Which Way Do You Roll?

A visual test to see if you are right-brained or left-brained. Make sure you've enabled GIF animation in your browser.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

I Don't Recall God Consulting With The Democratic Party

Those the most afraid of theology seem to be the ones who practice it the most. This post examines an interesting quote from Howard Dean:

"This country is not a theocracy," Dean said. "There are fundamental differences between the Republican Party and the Democratic Party. The Democratic Party believes that everybody in this room ought to be comfortable being an American Jew, not just an American; that there are no bars to heaven for anybody; that we are not a one-religion nation; and that no child or member of a football team ought to be able to cringe at the last line of a prayer before going onto the field."

Any Club Will Do

When it comes to trashing the US military. The latest is a "statistic" that WoT veterans are committing suicide at an alarming rate. But wait:

Danger Room links to a CBS story on an allegedly disproportional number of suicides by veterans. Supporting an anecdotal piece on veterans of the current war, CBS pulls up statistics showing that veterans committed suicide at twice the rate of the average population.

Shock! Horror!


In the US, male veterans outnumber female veterans 13:1. Since four times as many males as women commit suicide in the general population, you'd expect the rate among veterans to be close to the rate among males - 17.6/100,000 per year in 2002 - and indeed it is, if the CBS raw numbers are correct.

CBS also makes an issue of the fact that suicide rates among younger veterans exceed that of the general population by an even bigger margin - but again, that's what you'd expect, because in that age group, the male-to-female imbalance in suicide rates is greatest, almost six to one.

Suicide is tragedy. What it does not seem to be, among veterans, is an epidemic.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

The Exceptions Prove The Rule

The Belmont Club tries to apply some principles consistently, with curious results.


Good list of pet peeves. H/T Wittingshire.

The Future Lies Ahead

Interesting analysis of probable changes in the overall entertainment industry, perhaps to be spurred along by the writer's strike.

"Hicks Nix Peacenik Pix"

Roger L. Simon on why people are shunning Hollywood's Iraq war movies.

A quote from the piece:

[T]here is another benefit. (Here is where I am really going to make enemies.) Making movies like these or making extreme liberal public pronouncements make you seem like a good guy to yourself, when in your private life you are a miserable, self-serving bastard.

In order to understand how important that is you must never forget that Hollywood is a brutal place. It is just as vicious and competitive as dramatized in TV shows like Entourage, only nowhere near as entertaining. Only the most ambitious and determined survive and, to do that, the chances are you will not come out of the process a nice person. You will step on the backs of your colleagues, mistreat your staff and have generally erratic personal relationships based much more on status and connections than love or genuine affection.

Of course I am overstating to make a point, but I have noticed, in the years I have worked in Hollywood, that, with rare exceptions, the more successful people are, the more wretched they are to others. And those with the most obvious public liberal credentials are often the ones who are the most despicable in their private behavior. You could almost graph it.

Much of this public liberalism of the excessive knee-jerk variety stems from a form of self-loathing. These same people do not want to be bastards – life just put them in that position. But, at the same time, they do not want anyone to take away what they have – the vast acclaim and fortune – even if deep down they wonder if they are worthy. What to do? What to do?

The solution is to create another self, a kind of mini-me, who goes out and loudly proclaims what a fine liberal humanistic person he or she is- a public projection to obfuscate the private self. Sometimes this results in actual good works, but usually it is basically blather (see Streisand’s website) or dopey showing off like Sean Penn putting in an appearance with Hugo Chavez.

Other times, distorted work emerges like the current group of films no one wants to see.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

The Real Flat-Earthers Are Those Who Think That Those Who Didn't Believe In A Flat Earth Did

David Warren as quoted by Denyse O'Leary:

One of the constants in the long clash between Scientism & Christianity has been the repetition & elaboration by the Scienticists of quite incredible myths & lies, that are still used in our public schools, media, &c, to mock & slander Christians & Christianity. I know about the potency of these myths & lies, for I myself was taught many of them, in school, saw them endlessly repeated in the press, heard them repeated by all liberal adults, & actually believed several of them until I came to riper years, & began to realize that public atheism requires the defence of a "bodyguard of lies." (And you will find them all repeated uncritically in Dawkins, Hitchens, Sam Harris, & all the current bestselling atheist tracts.)

Many of the specific lies descend from old Protestant broadsides against Catholics -- for instance, the lie that the mediaeval scholastics debated how many angels on the head of a pin, lurid & untruthful accounts of proceedings of the Spanish Inquisition, various folk myths about what Catholics do in Mass, the misrepresentation of the trial of Galileo, &c. All except this last were products of virulent anti-Catholic pamphleteering, in the 17th century. (The Galileo myth was invented later, for in the 17th-C the Protestants themselves were opposing the heliocentric theory, & often trying to suppress it as a popish "heresy" -- on grounds that the people propagating it were all Catholics & often monks & were well-received in the Vatican.)

But while Scientism has taken aboard all the old Protestant smears, & turned them into smears against Christians in general, it has also been industriously manufacturing its own myths, lies, & vitriolic sneers, from the philosophes of the Enlightenment, forward. (The Darwinists of the 19th century were even more inventive, in their determination to associate Christian belief with idiocy.)

Among the most universally taught & least subtle, lies taught to this day, is that Christians throughout the Middle Ages believed the world was flat; & that the Church taught this, & defended it as religious doctrine against Copernicus, Kepler, & Galileo. Yet the Church never taught the earth was flat, nor did any educated person, Christian or otherwise, ever believe it.

Indeed, the old Ptolemaic system -- universally accepted by intelligent Christians, Heretics, Atheists, Jews, Muslims, & even Hindus until the age of Copernicus -- was very clear on the fact that the earth was a sphere.

The American scholar Jeffrey Burton Russell wrote an excellent history of the foundation & propagation of the "flat earth myth" in the 19th century, of which I've just become aware. (His earlier series of books on the historical development of doctrine & beliefs about the monotheist personification of the Devil may be familiar to some of you.) Russell is pedestrian in the best sense: a very thorough scholar who walks patiently through a broad range of evidence, insists on consulting original sources, & writes very clearly.

Choose Your Enemies Carefully

Dalrymple on the New Atheism.

How Perplexing

Hollywood discovers the obvious:

Anti-war movies tank at the box office
posted 11/10/07

One of the more satisfying, under-reported barometers of cultural trends is the dismal box office take of recent movies attacking U.S. foreign policy and the war in Iraq.

Read that article in its entirety, and observe that, in all the reasons offered for why these films have met with public indifference and scorn, the 800-pound gorilla in the room is ignored:

These films are all anti-U.S.

In each of them, America is portrayed as the Bad Guy, the Great Satan, the source of all Evil on earth.

Tell me: How does Hollywood expect general American audiences to ratify, with their entertainment dollars, movies that essentially spit in their own faces, blaming them for being a malignant force in the world?

The lameness of the excuses put forth in the article by various industry "analysts" and "insiders" is wondrous to behold.

The films haven't been "entertaining enough," says one. Well, sure: Would you find entertaining a film whose proposition is that you and your country are guilty of nothing but war crimes?

Another declares that people want "escape" from the news headlines; they don't want to be reminded of the war headlines when they go to the movie. Oh yeah? Tell it to the people who made all those patriotic John Wayne flicks during World War II. Filmgoers ate up the black-and-white, good-guys-versus-bad-guys messages of those war films of yesteryear...when Americans were the heroes.

Only veteran TV producer Steven Bochco comes remotely close to this point, when he observes that "World War II was hugely romanticized in terms of its fiction. There were unambiguous villains, and the feeling we were fighting the right people over the right issues, as opposed to this war, which many people feel is misguided."

But observe that he blames the box office failure on controversy over the rectitude of this war -- and not on these movies' unrelenting anti-American messages. In these films, there is no controversy: They all take a side, and that side is that America is wrong, and its soldiers a bunch of rapists, torturers, and murderers.

No, ye card-carrying members of the Hollywood left: All your "explanations" are dead wrong. You just don't want to come to grips with the fact that you hate America but your audience doesn't.

And they aren't willing to pay you to insult them.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Very Few Get The Argument

Because they don't want to get it. But this guy does:


Just two comments:

1) Although you are right that a strict sequence comparison between actual parasite and the parasite as it was at the moment of the introduction of chloroquine is not possible, because the sequencing of the genome has only been completed now, still there is probably no evidence that any significant phenotypic difference has been observed to emerge in the parasite during those years.

2) But that is really not the point. The point is that, after the introduction of chloroquine, the main selective pressure in the so called “fitness landscape” has become the drug. So, we have a model where a very strong environmental challenge has emerged, which is exactly what is supposed to be a very strong motivation to evolution in a darwinian scenario. So, the point is not if the parasite in those years has started to evolve some occult difference, but rather why it has not evolved any complex and non trivial adaptation to chloroquine, in the presence of such a strong selective force, and with so many reproductive cycles available. Why not a “cloroquinase”, or some equivalent mechanism, for instance? Why not a complex new pathway, let’s say 3 or 4 proteins in cascade whose purpose could be to metabolize the drug, or to couple it to some molecule to make it ineffective. Why not new cellular functions which may allow the parasite’s survival in the presence of choroquine? Why not a deeply renovated parasite, much more dangerous and resistant than its ancestor?

There are many possible ways to adapt, exactly as darwinian theory postulates, in the presence of a very strong environmental selective pressure. According to the theory, that’s why new species arise, new body plans are formed, new brains and functions arise, and often in less reproductive cycles than the parasite has experienced in the few years fron the introduction of the drug.

So, Behe’s argument stays perfectly valid: why can’t we see any creative evolution in the parasite, when all the necessary ingredients are there? Why only few trivial single point mutations?

The answer is simple: because that’s all random variation can accomplish, in absence of a design implementation.

Great Cartoon

Highlighted here.

Not In Your Name

Some great highlights from an interview with Michael Yon on the Hugh Hewitt show. The piece begins:

Michael Yon called the Hugh Hewitt Show today at 3:15 in the morning, Baghdad time. Michael has always been cautious in his reportage of events in the Iraqi front of the war on terror, even referring to Iraq as being in a civil war months before the Democrats and their allies in the mainstream media seized on the term, turning it into a rhetorical political weapon in the 2006 election, and promising to cut and run as soon as they ascended to power.

But today we heard a different side of Michael Yon. He was as upbeat and optimistic as we've ever heard him. He's been all over Iraq during the last several months, and reported that even in Baghdad, hope, peace, reconstruction, support and even appreciation for what our military has done for the Iraqi populace is breaking out all over.

You know it must be true, because Iraq disaster and failure news has fallen off the big three's nightly newscasts, and elected Democrats are changing the subject whenever Iraq is raised. You can read the whole transcript here, but below are some of the highlights...

Any Post Which Contains The Phrase, "The Empty Bone-Holes Are Your First Clue," Is Worth Reading

Some 1940's cookbook commentary from Lileks.

Fantasy Debate

Some amusing stuff from David Brooks.

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

For Our StruggIe Is Not Against The Principalities Or The Spritual Powers Of Wickedness In The Heavenly Places, But Against Flesh And Blood

Gagdad Bob:

Although my visiting father-in-law thinks he knows the reasons for his devout atheism, he has no idea that he is actually immersed in a discredited metaphysic that he simply "assumes," and therefore requires no defense. It's just "common sense." In his view, it is incumbent upon believers to prove to him the existence of God -- even though he is the one making the extraordinary claim, given the relatively tiny number of doctrinaire atheists who exist and who, for whatever reason, are unable to apprehend the spiritual dimension. The average person obviously doesn't have this difficulty, even if he cannot articulate why with reasons that could satisfy the pneumacognitive idiosyncracies of atheist.

Polanyi felt that the contemporary madness of postmodernity began with the idea of a complete and perfect objectivism, which is supposed to be the ideal of science and of all reliable knowledge in general: "All personal and subjective elements came to be regarded as disturbances to the attainment of this perfect objectivity. Every effort therefore had to be made to eliminate them." It was as if Nature spoke directly and unamibuously to us, and that all we had to do was disinterestedly listen to her without any preconceptions.

This ideal, which may at times be appropriate for certain limited, very simple domains, eventually insinuated itself into most fields of knowledge. But this epistemological revolution had anthropological consequences, as it served to undermine traditional authority and create a kind of hyper-individualism operating outside the domain of any legitimate authority.

As Hoarhey mentioned in a comment yesterday, this irrational-rational revolt reached a kind of peak in the late 1960s. In other words, the "rational" rejection of religion in particular and tradition in general facilitated an absurd leap into what amounts to romantic irrationalism. Since there is no legitimate authority, each person become a law unto himself: do your own thing, and all that.

For example, marriage is better then living together? Prove it. A fetus is a human being? Prove it. Beethoven is better than rap? Prove it. Heterosexuality is preferable to homosexuality? Prove it. Men and women are fundamentally different? Prove it. One is obligated to tell the truth? Prove it. Etc., etc. In each case, the moral truth is accessible to human beings, but not through the application of mere reason.


This dichotomy is still present today in the vast differences between conservatism (i.e., real liberalism) and liberalism (i.e., leftism). Leftism continues to be riddled with contradictions that are rooted in its initial philosophical error. For example, one of their rock-bottom beliefs is that there is no rational or universal way to arbitrate between the values of one culture or nation and another. Therefore, it is wrong to stand in the way of any nation that wishes to realize its powers, say Iran. But when America exercises its power, there is universal condemnation from the left. How can this be?

Once again it has to do with the unhinged morality of the left. Being that their skepticism bars them from the spiritual dimension, they are unable to reliably distinguish between good and evil -- i.e., these are simply arbitrary categories. Reduced to flatland materialism, they instead divide the world into visible, empirical categories such as have and have-nots. As such, they conceive a material explanation onto which they graft their unhinged moral passion. They do the same thing with other material categories, such as race, gender and "sexual orientation." As such, all of the moral energy which, in a spiritually normal person, is reserved for distinguishing between good and evil, decent and indecent, is ruthlessly, even sadistically, applied to these meaningless substitute categories.

This explains the grotesque and perverse moral passion of the left, for example, the condemnation of the Duke lacrosse team by dozens of leftist professors who do not see good and evil, only "white and black" (and they still haven't apologized, since the "narrative" or template they imposed on the situation cannot be falsified). Likewise, in the Arab-Israeli conflict, the left obviously cannot see the moral gulf between Israel and her barbarous enemies. Rather, they only see "whiteness and indigenous-ness," or something along those lines.

In old Europe, "the replacement of moral ideals by philosophically less vulnerable, because more basically animal, objectives was carried out in all seriousness. Human appetites and human passions were actually substituted for reason and for the ideals of man in this framework of thought." "Begun in the name of reason, they ended by reducing reason to a caricature of itself: to a mere rationalization of conclusions predetermined by desire and eventually to be secured and held by force.... If thought and reason are nothing by themselves, if they are only the effects of social causes, then it is meaningless to demand that they be set free."

Slavery is freedom, lies are truth, amorality is morality. Memo to old Europe: a civilization not in contact with the Real will eventually perish. As it should. To put it another way, dying on the vine is a possibility, but dying off of it is a certainty.

We Should Bring Nuke Plants Closer Than 93 Million Miles Out In Space Or Three Miles Underground

The American Spectator looks at the utter economic inefficiency of all the "alternative" energy ideas floated to avoid the dreaded "N" idea.

A Litany Of Disastrous Failure

There's a reason "liberalism" is a radioactive word in American politics. Actually there are many reasons.

The piece begins:

It's a long list.

Add Hillary Clinton's endorsement of driver's licenses for illegal immigrants ("it makes sense") to a very long list.

The list? A seemingly unending series of bad policy proposals and loopy values that liberals have championed during the course of decades. What all of these subjects have in common is that they upended common sense in favor of a fit of moral superiority and emotional feel-goodism. They are a history of liberal disasters. All backfired or were proved dead wrong. Sometimes they were outright lethal. Collectively they are part and parcel of the real reason the once honorable term "liberal" has won such disdain from so many Americans when it isn't being hooted out of a serious policy discussion with laughter. And lying just under the surface of all the current crop of polls that predict a Democrat victory in the race for the White House is the lurking reality that any candidate who makes a point of flying the liberal flag stands a serious chance of being defeated outright. Why, after all, do you think Senator Clinton hemmed and hawed her way through the driver's license issue in last week's debate?

Here's just a handful of my personal favorites:

Read the rest. And shudder.

Is It Ever The Wrong Time To Bloviate About Politics?

James Taranto:

Wannabe Pundits

OK, see if you can guess the topic of a column by Lee Benson of Salt Lake City's Deseret Morning News. It begins as follows:

The financial news from the front--the president wants another $196 billion for wars that have already cost $600 billion--is bleak.

The financial news from the campaign trail--where candidates are going to spend $1 billion trying to become president--is depressing.

Here in Utah, the financial news from the private school voucher fight--where people on both sides have already spent $9 million (how about settling it with a coin-flip and give the money to the kids?)--is astonishing.

Give up? Here's the next sentence:

But if you want financial news you can really grind your teeth over you have to move into the world of Alex Rodriguez, also known as A-Rod, who just this week told the New York Yankees he doesn't want the $25 million they're offering him to play baseball for them next season.

Dan Neil of the Los Angeles Times injects politics into a car column:

I spent a week in an up-spec Impreza WRX five-door ($29,833) and came away wondering why Subaru would dilute one of its core products in hopes of attracting a mainstream audience that will never, ever materialize. Come on, Subaru, follow the GOP model: Pander to your base.

This analogy doesn't even make sense. The GOP often attracts a "mainstream audience," as in the presidential elections of 1980, 1984, 1988, 2000 and 2004. Stick to cars, Dan.

And then there's this, from Tony Long of Wired News. Long remembers the 69th anniversary of Orson Welles's radio dramatization of H.G. Wells's "War of the Worlds." Many listeners didn't realize it was fiction and thought Martians actually had landed in New Jersey. (It apparently never occurred to ask anyone why they would go to New Jersey of all places.) Long opines:

The resulting hysteria--people fleeing in their cars, barricading themselves inside their homes--led to calls for stricter regulation of radio broadcasting to prevent this sort of thing from occurring again. Fortunately, it was the Roosevelt administration and not the Bush administration that steered the ship of state in those days, and the furor eventually died down.

Right, because FDR would never do anything hysterical like lock up tens of thousands of innocent American citizens.

Monday, November 05, 2007

Great Steyn Column

It's the 20 year anniversary of the publishing of Allan Bloom's book The Closing Of The American Mind. Steyn has an excellent reflection.

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Discovering The Obvious

An investigative breakthrough:

Journalism: The debate is over. A consensus has been reached. On global warming? No, on how Democrats are favored on television, radio and in the newspapers.

Related Topics: Media & Culture

Just like so many reports before it, a joint survey by the Project for Excellence in Journalism and Harvard's Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy — hardly a bastion of conservative orthodoxy — found that in covering the current presidential race, the media are sympathetic to Democrats and hostile to Republicans.

Democrats are not only favored in the tone of the coverage. They get more coverage period. This is particularly evident on morning news shows, which "produced almost twice as many stories (51% to 27%) focused on Democratic candidates than on Republicans."

The most flagrant bias, however, was found in newspapers. In reviewing front-page coverage in 11 newspapers, the study found the tone positive in nearly six times as many stories about Democrats as it was negative...

Good News Is No News

The Times Of London, quoted here:

Is no news good news or bad news? In Iraq, it seems good news is deemed no news. There has been striking success in the past few months in the attempt to improve security, defeat al-Qaeda sympathisers and create the political conditions in which a settlement between the Shia and the Sunni communities can be reached. This has not been an accident but the consequence of a strategy overseen by General David Petraeus in the past several months …

Indeed, on every relevant measure, the shape of the Petraeus curve is profoundly encouraging …

None of this means that all the past difficulties have become history. A weakened al-Qaeda will be tempted to attempt more spectacular attacks to inflict substantial loss of life in an effort to prove that it remains in business. Although the tally of car bombings and improvised explosive devices has fallen back sharply, it would only take one blast directed at an especially large crowd or a holy site of unusual reverence for the headlines about impending civil war to be allowed another outing …

The current achievements, and they are achievements, are being treated as almost an embarrassment in certain quarters. The entire context of the contest for the Democratic nomination for president has been based on the conclusion that Iraq is an absolute disaster and the first task of the next president is to extricate the United States at maximum speed. Democrats who voted for the war have either repudiated their past support completely (John Edwards) or engaged in a convoluted partial retraction (Hillary Clinton). Congressional Democrats have spent most of this year trying (and failing) to impose a timetable for an outright exit…

All of these attitudes have become outdated. There are many valid complaints about the manner in which the Bush Administration and Donald Rumsfeld, in particular, managed Iraq after the 2003 military victory. But not to recognise that matters have improved vastly in the year since Mr Rumsfeld’s resignation from the Pentagon was announced and General Petraeus was liberated would be ridiculous.
Politicians on both sides of the Atlantic have to appreciate that Iraq is no longer, as they thought, an exercise in damage limitation but one of making the most of an opportunity. The instinct of too many people is that if Iraq is going badly we should get out because it is going badly and if it is getting better we should get out because it is getting better. This is a catastrophic miscalculation. Iraq is getting better. That is good, not bad, news.

Another Good Quote

At Instapundit:

"YOUNG STRIVERS" IN WASHINGTON find that being a "professional world-saver" doesn't pay as well as they'd hoped.

And they're not getting much sympathy.

UPDATE: A reader emails:

Geez, we’ve been dealing with this in academic science for decades now.

I wish these people would do the math: Doing something that’s stimulating and fun, sounds great at a cocktail party, and is supported by charity or tax money means that you will probably be making peanuts. (In my field, there are usually about 200 applicants/permanent position, all with Ph.D.s.)

Don’t like being broke? Do something that makes you a profit center instead of a cost center.

See original for links.


Well said:

TONY SNOW ON the news industry's decline: "There's an old boast in the business -- that the job of a journalist is to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable. The thing is, we never realized that we were becoming The Comfortable."

posted at 02:07 PM by Glenn Reynolds

Friday, November 02, 2007

You Can Bloviate About Atheism All You Want Under The Cover Of Science, But Cast Thee Out!! If You Think Anything Looks Designed

The usual double standards, in flagrant display:

Principled (not Rhetorical) Reasons Why ID Doesn’t Identify the Designer (Part 2)

In Part 1 I discussed the principled reasons that ID proponents offer to explain why ID does not identify the designer: “while biological structures may be scientifically explained via intelligent design, the structures themselves have no way of directly telling us whether the designer is Yahweh, Buddha, Yoda, or some other type of intelligent agency.” Unfortunately, some critics have misunderstood this point as implying that ID proponents are completely silent about who they believe the designer is, or that ID proponents deny the possibility that the designer could be God. This very misconception was printed in an article co-authored by Barbara Forrest that was published in a legal journal:

First- and second-generation creationists were quite willing to acknowledge who they believe designed the world. Proponents of intelligent design creationism, on the other hand, vociferously deny that the intelligent designer they postulate is equivalent to God, and in their statements to the general public they often deny taking any position at all on the nature of the world’s designer. … [P]roponents of intelligent design cannot acknowledge to the general public (much less to courts) the true identity of their intelligent designer.

(Matthew J. Brauer, Barbara Forrest, Steven G. Gey, "Is It Science Yet?: Intelligent Design Creationism and the Constitution," Washington University Law Quarterly, Vol. 83(1) (2005).)

Brauer, Forrest and Gey seem to miss the fact that ID proponents have been extremely open to the general public about their views on the identity of the designer. Incredibly, the subsequent sections in Forrest et al.’s article include citations to sources where ID proponents make public statements on their views on the identity of the designer:

# In a public source cited by Forrest et al., Phillip Johnson writes in a very public book, Defeating Darwinism by Opening Minds, that he sees “God as our true Creator.” (pg. 92)
# In a public source cited by Forrest et al., Paul Nelson (as well as theistic evolutionist paleontologist Keith Miller) signed a public statement agreeing that “God is the creator of all things.”
# In a public source cited by Forrest et al., William Dembski publicly stated, “As a Christian, I am a theist and believe that God created the world.”
# Forrest et al. admit that Michael Behe's “Darwin’s Black Box [was] written for a general audience” and cite it multiple times in their article, yet it is in this very book Behe specifically states that he is “a Roman Catholic.” (pg. 239)

Behe elsewhere gives some of the principled reasons I previously discussed why ID does not identify the designer:

most people (including myself) will attribute the design to God--based in part on other, non-scientific judgments they have made--I did not claim that the biochemical evidence leads ineluctably to a conclusion about who the designer is. In fact, I directly said that, from a scientific point of view, the question remains open. … I did not claim that the biochemical evidence leads ineluctably to a conclusion about who the designer is. The biochemical evidence strongly indicates design, but does not show who the designer was.

Thus, when ID proponents state that ID does not identify the designer, they are, in Behe’s words, “not being coy, but only limiting ... claims to what ... the evidence will support.” Indeed, contrary to Forrest et al.’s assertion, Behe volunteered his views on this matter in court during the Kitzmiller trial at the very beginning of his direct examination:

Q. So is it accurate for people to claim or to represent that intelligent design holds that the designer was God?
A. No, that is completely inaccurate.
Q. Well, people have asked you your opinion as to who you believe the designer is, is that correct?
A. That is right.
Q. Has science answered that question?
A. No, science has not done so.
Q. And I believe you have answered on occasion that you believe the designer is God, is that correct?
A. Yes, that's correct.
Q. Are you making a scientific claim with that answer?
A. No, I conclude that based on theological and philosophical and historical factors.

(Michael Behe, October 17 Testimony, AM Session.)

It’s worth noting that not all ID proponents identify the designer as God. For example, in 2004 UCLA neuroscientist Jeffrey Schwartz spoke in favor of intelligent design, and he identified himself as a “Buddhist Jew.” The philosopher Antony Flew provides another notable example of an ID-proponent who is not a traditional theist. And I have other colleagues in the ID movement who are entirely agnostic about the identity of the designer. But for ID proponents who are traditional theists, like Behe, Nelson, Dembski, or Johnson, science is a way of knowing, and as a scientific theory, ID informs us that life was designed. Their view that the designer is God is something they wholeheartedly believe, but it comes from a knowledge source other than science; it comes from other ways of knowing -- from non-scientific sources of knowledge outside of intelligent design. Their views about the identity of the designer are their own personal religious beliefs and do not come from the scientific theory of ID. Phillip Johnson makes this distinction perfectly clear:

“[M]y personal view is that I identify the designer of life with the God of the Bible, although intelligent design theory as such does not entail that."

(Phillip E. Johnson, “Intelligent Design in Biology: the Current Situation and Future Prospects,” Think (The Royal Institute of Philosophy), 2007)

In fact, I too believe the designer is the God of the Bible, but this is not a conclusion of ID; it is my personal religious view that stems from factors outside of intelligent design.

Blinded by Scientism

How could Forrest, Gey and Brauer miss such obvious refutations of their claim that ID proponents “vociferously deny that the intelligent designer they postulate is equivalent to God”? I’ll try to give a charitable explanation.

Forrest et al. may make this mistake because they adhere to scientism, the view that science is the only valid source of knowledge. In fact Forrest is a secular humanist who strongly supports scientism, writing that that the greater the naturalistic account, the less likely supernaturalism becomes and that "the relationship between methodological and philosophical naturalism, while not one of logical entailment, is the only reasonable metaphysical conclusion." So basically, Forrest believes that science is the only way to gain real knowledge. Perhaps her scientism is so deeply ingrained that she mistakenly thought that everything ID proponents believe about the designer must be a conclusion of intelligent design. Perhaps Forrest et al. cannot consciously make the distinction between knowledge that comes from scientific sources and knowledge that comes from non-scientific sources because they believe that all real knowledge must come from science. In other words, perhaps they forgot, as Ken Miller rightly stated during the Dover trial, that “everything that a scientist writes or says is not necessarily a scientific statement or a scientific publication.” (Kitzmiller Testimony of Kenneth Miller, Sept. 26 AM, pgs. 55-56.)

Regardless of whether my hypothesis explaining Forrest et al.’s mistake is correct, they have promoted a false conspiracy that ID proponents are trying to hide their views on the identity of the designer. Ironically, Forrest et al. use the public statements where ID proponents state their belief in God as a misplaced attempt to prove that ID is religion. They want you to simultaneously believe that ID is religion because ID proponents have publicly stated they believe the designer is God, and that ID proponents dishonestly deny that the designer is God. Their argument contradicts itself, and they cannot have it both ways. But after these two posts on this topic, perhaps the third way—the correct way—is clear:

# ID does not address religious questions about the identity of the designer, and in fact ID proponents have diverse views about the identity of the designer;
# ID proponents give principled reasons why ID does not identify the designer, stemming from ID’s intent to respect the limits of science and not attempt to address religious questions that go beyond what can be scientifically inferred from the empirical data;
# Whether traditional theists or not, ID proponents are entirely open about their views on the identity of the designer;
# ID proponents make it clear that their views about the identity of the designer are their personal religious views, and not conclusions of ID.

It's very simple. Anything with atheistic impications counts as science. Anything with theistic implications doesn't. QED.