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Friday, November 18, 2005

Intelligent Design v Neodarwinism v Creationism

This is not an attempt to argue the scientific merits or lack thereof of any of the specific positions of Neodarwinists, Creationists or Intelligent Design researchers.

But just consider for a moment this snippet from a blog post by Scott Adams (yes, Dilbert creator-not a scientist, but an apparently honest and intelligent man):

"Intelligent Design accepts an old earth and even accepts the fact that species probably evolved. They only question the "how." Creationists have jumped on that bandwagon as a way to poke holes in Darwinism. The Creationists and the Intelligent Design folks have the same target (Darwin), but they don't have the same argument. The average person who has a strong opinion on this topic doesn't understand that distinction because the political agenda of the creationists makes things murky." _1_

While Scott makes the error here of not taking note of the political agendas of Neodarwinists, he does show an understanding of some of the differences between Intelligent Design and Creationism-an understanding almiost entirely lacking in Mass Media Podpeople ranks, as well most in the ranks of Academia Nuts and Blogger Pseudopundits. He also makes the mistake, IMO, of assuming a monolithic "evolution" camp of thought, even though most evolutionists today are Neodarwinists.

The rest of his post is a darned good place to start in debunking much of the B.S. that both Neodarwinists and Creationists have pushed and that simple-minded (read "stupid") Mass Media Podpeople have promoted.

Then there is this, from someone with impeccable scientific training, longtime experience in hard and "soft" (he would say has said, "voodoo sciences") sciences, engineering and the arts. A very smart and knowedgeable man, a specifically non-scientifically jargoned comment:

Either there is a purpose to the universe or there is not. If there is not, then we have the problem of deriving purpose to our own existence. Existentialists say there is now. Existence precedes essence, and does not imply purpose; and thus our lives are absurd. After which Sartre became a communist. Apparently Marxism substituted for purpose. Camus concludes that life consists of doing one's job; but he could not get far behind that statement, and though less alienated than some, remained essentially a stranger in a strange land.-Jerry Pournelle _2_

Let me encourage you who read this to junk whatever propoganda being bruited about in the media or in B.S. sessions in the blogosphere or wherever to assess the claims of "fact" and arguments of parties in the debate according to central scientific principles:

Is what is being said fact, hypothesis, unintentional falsehood or a lie?

What is the degree of confidence for whatever fact is brought forth, and are any conceptual/prconceptual biases of the observers being injected into interpretive statements made about the facts? If so, what degree of confidence can you attempt to assign the representations of fact? Why?

And lastly, and most importantly,

Is the argument a statement of falsifiable hypothesis subject to testing or is it a statement of faith, not subject to testing or falsifying?

Right now, Neodarwinists mostly just do not want to debate on fact or submit to examinations for falsifiability. Creationists are for the most part cherrypickers and twisters of fact with no falsifiable positions. Only ID research is-for the most part-still doing serious science of any kind, it appears.

None of the three camps have completely clean hands, but at least the IDers do not yet seem to be outright liars like the other two camps.

But-MOST OF ALL-do not take my word for that statement! Check for yourself. The Wittingshire blog has some decent links to start folks off at the layman's level, as Scott Adams did. Try it out. Look around. Ask questions. Oh, and check Bloggin Outloud for a timely ID post.

Linked also at TMH's Bacon Bits' Misappropriating Intelligent Design and Overstating Evolution.

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