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.