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Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Another ID and Gov't Debt Articles

This one defending Intelligent Design from typical attacks must be really bad (good); I think I've gotten about 20 hate mails so far. (The best was the succinct, "You're an idiot.") For those who used to like my stuff but think it all went downhill once I became a Christian, read this article on government debt and maybe we can be friends again.

14 comments:

  1. Anonymous4:32 PM

    "What a waste it is to lose one's mind. Or not to have a mind is being very wasteful. How true that is."

    Dan Quayle speaking to the United Negro College Fund

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  2. Bob, you were heading downhill long before you became a Christian.

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  3. Anonymous5:02 AM

    "Now does the above sound like someone who is ignorant?"

    He has been given exactly what he says he hasn't - a description of step-by-step ways that his "irreducible" systems could evolve. He has even been given papers that describe actual living beings that contain "halfway" systems he claims to be completely impossible. I don't know if he is simply refusing to read the papers, or if he is simply directly lying. You can decide which one it is. What it sounds like? It sounds like very good rethoric.

    "you’ll see that the typical description is very misleading indeed"

    Your logic is strange indeed. Behe redefines science in such a way that it makes the concept practically all-inclusive - you make up an explanation, and that's scientific thought. Someone points out that this makes astrology a science. Behe concurs.

    And after that, saying that "Behe wants to teach something he himself admits is on the same scientific level as astrology" is misleading?

    "Of course the lawyer pounced and asked Behe if astrology would count as a scientific theory under this definition, to which Behe replied "yes." Now, Behe isn’t an idiot, at least when it comes to publicity, right? He knew full well why that question was being asked, and he knew his admission would be splashed all over the newspapers. So if he were truly intellectually dishonest, why wouldn’t he dodge the question? Why wouldn’t he act, say, as Bush or Kerry did during their debates?"

    Goodness. So, we are to ignore that Behe wants public schools to teach astrology-level science, and instead we are to applaud him for not dodging the question? If someone asks him "so, you are an idiot", and he says "well yes! Yes I am!", we should respond with "wow, he is so honest; perhaps we should listen to him more carefully?"

    "Isn’t this exactly what you’d expect to see, then? No journals publishing the work of Behe, Dembski, et al., so that these guys have to write up their views in books?"

    Absolutely not. We would expect to se groundbreaking research that proves the existing theory wrong. Such as has happened with the Central Dogma of Molecular Biology when reverse transcriptase was discovered. Or RNA catalysis. Or the whole fuss going on right now with adhesion pili being found in TB.

    The obstacle faced by people who push new theories is simple: funding. You need to get a grant funded, and people who are judging it are often old curmudgeonly experts in the field, unwilling to admit they were wrong. But you will eventually accumulate enough circumstantial evidence to support funding (or will squeeze some money from another source), and get your evidence. Once you have evidence, the scientific discussion is a technicality. Journals will publish your papers, and will not ignore experimental data. You will get further funding. It's not theory, it happens in practice all the time.

    Intelligent Design has plenty of funding. It uses it for propaganda. It does not use it for research.

    "Anyway, I make the following, falsifiable prediction:"

    Nice move. It gives you ten years to promote ID without any evidence. Well, here is a falsifiable prediction of my own: your falsifiable prediction will be falsified, but ID proponents won't give up. ID itself may eventually die (actually, that's quite likely now), but they'll come up with another vector of attack eventually.

    "William Dembski has dealt this objection a decisive blow when he explains the potential for ID in bioterrorism forensics."

    William Dembski has successfully postured in front of his followers, you mean.

    Existence of a human designer of a given genetic sequence/biochemical mechanism can be inferred from existing data by comparison with other known human-created sequences. In case of "intelligent designer" there is no such reference - it has to be accepted on faith. In case of human design, we can say "ok, let's compare with this other human design"; in case of ID, we can only say "well, I don't know how else it coulda happened".

    Also, let me remind you yet again that "irreducible complexity" is a false concept. What basically happens is this: take two systems of approximately same level of complexity; say, a high eukaryotic replisome (A), and a flagellum (B). If you had just A and B, the ID folks would talk of both as irreducibly complex. But in case of A, we have good analysis of evolution, we have many simpler systems that illustrate steps in its evolution, and we have good ways of studying it easily in the lab. In case of B, we have a poor analysis of evolution due to lack of data, we have only a few simpler systems that achieve same functionality (do you know of archaeal flagellum?), and we don't have a good way of studying it easily in the lab.

    That lack of knowledge is the only reason why B is labeled as "irreducibly complex".

    "AN ARGUMENT FROM IGNORANCE?"

    Again, very nice rethoric. It is hard to see if you truly don't see the point of that argument at all, or if you are just trying to dodge it in any way possible.

    "Your ignorance isn't a strike against my theory" is valid only when there is something that can be learned. An ID supporter can learn theory of evolution, can learn the genetic evidence behind it - and if he/she still believes in ID, he/she can maybe level some realistic criticisms of evolution. What ID crowd is doing is described at the beginning of this comment, on Behe's example: they simply pretend that evidence isn't there, or they talk about things which nobody has much knowledge about.

    In your "mathematician" example, an "evolutionist mathematician" can write down a step-by-step explanation of his theorem. The "ID mathematician" can then, if math is too hard for him, learn the parts of math he does not understand (and complain loudly if that math doesn't make sense, showing why in the process). Then he can analyze the theorem, and show mathematically which parts are wrong. What "ID mathematicians" do in practice, however, is just say "I don't believe it", and then they refuse to look at the proof.

    As for "Christianity disguised" thing - it is a matter of factual evidence. Vast majority of ID proponents are Christian, and they personally believe that God of the Bible is the "Intelligent Designer". They pretend to be neutral for sake of appearance, but they are not. These are simple, indisputable facts. Motivation is important: since ID is pushing very hard, with a lot of propaganda money behind it, we need to understand why they are doing so. The answer is misguided quasi-Christian belief in an incompetent, moody, chidlish God.

    If you think that I'm wrong (and let me reiterate: this particular argument does not deal with whether ID is right or wrong, but what is the main motivation for vast majority of its proponents), please say so - and provide evidence to the contrary. I can certainly provide a lot of evidence for my point, starting with you, going on to Behe and Dembski, and on to Wells, and on...

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  4. Anonymous11:46 PM

    Mr. Quayle must reiterate...
    Bob has been served again!

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  5. All you Anonymous posters are getting on my nerves. Don't you want to use some name with your post? It looks like the same person is alternately arguing intelligently with Bob and childishly insulting him. I'm not saying you ought to use your real name, but for crying out loud, pick some screen name.

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  6. Bobbi-O1:35 PM

    Anonymous (the first one),

    RPM: "Now does the above sound like someone who is ignorant?"

    He has been given exactly what he says he hasn't - a description of step-by-step ways that his "irreducible" systems could evolve.


    Can you give me two of the best papers on this, please? (I'm not being sarcastic.)

    For onlookers, what someone like Demsbki claims is the following: Behe says a particularly complex bacterial flagellum couldn't have evolved through the purposeless Darwinian process. Neo-Darwinians come back and say, "It's logically possible; some pieces could've changed their function during the way, and hence the end thing has crucial components but the whole process is still possible. And look: some of the parts of your flagellum, Mr. Behe, are used elsewhere in the type three secretory system. So now that we've answered your challenge, please stop lying to the nation's children."

    So I really would like to read the papers in question. And I'll also make a promise, Anonymous, and you can hold me to it: If I go read those papers and they do indeed involve a step-by-step account of how a flagellum like Behe's could've evolved, where each new stage is a minor mutation on the previous, and each new stage confers an evolutionary advantage over the previous, then I'll stop defending the intellectual integrity of Behe and Demsbki. (I won't necessarily think ID is totally wrong, but obviously I'll take their other "expert" claims with a grain of salt.)

    BUT, on the other hand, if the papers you say Behe is ignoring really don't do what he wants--and of course I will be (in your opinion) the totally biased judge of that question--then my confidence in the integrity of him and Dembski will be greatly magnified.

    Goodness. So, we are to ignore that Behe wants public schools to teach astrology-level science,

    Suppose I say a human being is an organism, and then I define that term, and you say, "So on that definition, a bacterium is an organism?" If I say yes, run to the papers and declare, "Murphy says humans on the same level as bacteria!!"

    For those onlookers, I encourage you to go read the bulk of the transcript; it takes a few minutes. Behe obviously doesn't think astrology is as "scientific" as ID; he doesn't think the former is supported by the facts. But if he said, "Something is a scientific theory if XYZ and these claims are supported by the facts," then the prosecutor would've said, "Do the majority of scientists agree with you on this point?" and he would have to say no. So to avoid the voting criterion of what is scientific, Behe proposed a looser definition that also included astrology, and when the lawyer pointed this out, Behe admitted it.

    Absolutely not. We would expect to se groundbreaking research that proves the existing theory wrong.

    Well, that's exactly what Demsbki's theorems claim to be. I haven't evaluated them yet, so I can't tell. (I know the physicists who came up with the initial NFL theorems disagree.)

    As far as Behe, again, I'm not sure what you want him to do. (And I realize that's part of your point, that the ID people can't frame their views in terms of a reproducible experiment.)

    Behe is very knowledgeable about the complexity of biochemical processes in the cell, and he is simply saying, "Not only can I not imagine how a Darwinian process could've yielded this, I also have searched the literature and found an eerie silence on the topic. No one has yet proposed a satisfactory account. In other areas of science, the scientists involved have no problem invoking intelligence when confronted with things that couldn't have been produced by natural processes alone. So why is this move ruled out a priori in biology?"

    Like I said, I don't know what Behe is supposed to do to publish on this opinion. In addition to the cladistic test (of library books versus organisms) that I proposed before, maybe there are indeed things we could do. I don't know enough to say at this point.

    Oh, let me deal with your argument from the other thread, where you said, "That's like saying you don't believe in the germ theory of disease but you'll do more research into it."

    Not quite. If there were a few maverick PhDs in immunology (or whatever) that published intelligent critiques of the germ theory, and if much (not all) of the mainstream reaction was to point out that these mavericks were (say) Buddhists and so they rejected Western science itself, including modern medicine, and on a bunch of the specific points the mainstream scientists begged the question, then yes indeed, I would be skeptical.

    Such as has happened with the Central Dogma of Molecular Biology when reverse transcriptase was discovered. Or RNA catalysis. Or the whole fuss going on right now with adhesion pili being found in TB.

    Let me point out to Austrian economics onlookers: A mainstream economist could say just the same thing to the Austrians. I.e. if they really think mainstream theory is so bad (just look at how these lunatics rant on mises.org and in their childish journals), then they are free to publish their stuff. Robert Lucas blew up hydraulic Keynesianism and won the Nobel Prize. The system works. Economic science is self-correcting.

    Nice move. It gives you ten years to promote ID without any evidence.

    Thanks! I was hoping to get a compliment amidst your criticisms.

    Do you think we'll have a good description of how the bacterial flagellum could've evolved within ten years?

    William Dembski has successfully postured in front of his followers, you mean.

    No, that's not what I meant. I think what you meant to say was, "I disagree Bob, and here's why..."

    That lack of knowledge is the only reason why B is labeled as "irreducibly complex".

    No, it's not. Irreducible complexity is a well-defined term. If something is irreducibly complex, that by itself doesn't mean Dariwnism can't explain it. But let's postpone this particular argument for my next LRC article, which I'll post on this blog probably Tuesday or Wednesday. (Falsifiable prediction: You won't like the article.)

    The "ID mathematician" can then, if math is too hard for him, learn the parts of math he does not understand (and complain loudly if that math doesn't make sense, showing why in the process).

    I realize this isn't part of your argument here, but I just want to remind onlookers that Dembski has a Ph.D. in math, and I don't think he got it online either. That doesn't mean he's right, of course, but I didn't want any innocent onlookers to think that the "ID people" can't do math.

    What "ID mathematicians" do in practice, however, is just say "I don't believe it", and then they refuse to look at the proof.

    I realize you're upset about my article, and you think I'm raising public support for a pernicious group of people, but I think your above characterization is about as fair as asking Duane Gish (the "scientific creationist") to describe mainstream evolutionary biologists and how the operate.

    As for "Christianity disguised" thing - it is a matter of factual evidence. Vast majority of ID proponents are Christian, and they personally believe that God of the Bible is the "Intelligent Designer". They pretend to be neutral for sake of appearance, but they are not. These are simple, indisputable facts. Motivation is important: since ID is pushing very hard, with a lot of propaganda money behind it, we need to understand why they are doing so. The answer is misguided quasi-Christian belief in an incompetent, moody, chidlish God.

    Ah, so not only are we bad scientists, we're not even good Christians.

    If you think that I'm wrong (and let me reiterate: this particular argument does not deal with whether ID is right or wrong, but what is the main motivation for vast majority of its proponents), please say so - and provide evidence to the contrary. I can certainly provide a lot of evidence for my point, starting with you, going on to Behe and Dembski, and on to Wells, and on...

    Wait a minute. If you're saying, "Do you agree that the vast majority of IDers are Christian?" then yes I do--just like I said in the article.

    If you're asking, "Isn't ID then logically linked to Christianity?" I say no--the case of Antony Flew is a good counterexample. Again, I said this all in the article.

    If you're asking, "Shouldn't evolution supporters spend a lot of timing focusing on the infamous Wedge document, rather than the allegedly scientific points of dispute," I would say, "No, they shouldn't."

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  7. J.D.Quayle7:09 PM

    I holeheartedly agree with everything Blob has to say about ID.

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  8. To the person irritated by Anonymous postings: you have a point. Here we go.

    Bob:
    "Can you give me two of the best papers on this, please? (I'm not being sarcastic.)"

    Not without being woefully incomplete. But I can give you a list of papers of interest:

    Nat Rev Immunol. 2005 Nov;5(11):866-79.
    J Endotoxin Res. 2005;11(4):243-8
    Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2005 Jan 4;102(1):169-74.
    Immunol Rev. 2004 Apr;198:203-15.
    Immunol Rev. 1990 Feb;113:83-117
    Nature 2004, 430:174-180
    Science 2005, 310(5756):1970-1973

    Start with the last one.

    >So I really would like to read the papers in question.

    The list is here; it still gives a very incomplete outlook, but that can't be helped - unless you are willing to read an even longer list.

    You might also want to consult someone who does research in this area for recommendations; this is very far from my own area of research, and I am far from being up to date on research in the field.

    "And I'll also make a promise, Anonymous, and you can hold me to it: If I go read those papers and they do indeed involve a step-by-step account of how a flagellum like Behe's could've evolved,"

    We were talking about vertebrate immunity, not flagella. But here is an article written for lay audience about how a complex flagellum could have evolved in a stepwise fashion:

    http://www.talkdesign.org/faqs/flagellum.html

    It is a very good hypothetical account. It probably isn't correct, but nobody can tell, since we don't know enough about the system. But it blows to pieces the claim that a flagellum could not have evolved in stepwise fashion.

    Do check the references as well. There has been progress on this field as well, but I know even less on it then I do about the research in immune system evolution, so I can't recommend new materials. You are free to (and, in fact, should at earliest opportunity) contact a few people in the field and ask them (nicely) for literature recommendations.

    "BUT, on the other hand, if the papers you say Behe is ignoring really don't do what he wants--and of course I will be (in your opinion) the totally biased judge of that question--then my confidence in the integrity of him and Dembski will be greatly magnified."

    If you want the list of papers Behe has been ignoring, go to Pubmed and enter "immune system evolution" into the search field. But hey, I'm willing to bet that I already know what your decision is going to be.

    "Suppose I say a human being is an organism, and then I define that term, and you say, "So on that definition, a bacterium is an organism?" If I say yes, run to the papers and declare, "Murphy says humans on the same level as bacteria!!""

    This analogy does not stand by any logic of this world.

    Behe redefines science in such a way that astrology can be included. He admits that freely. That is like redefinining "organism" to include rocks, or redefining "human" to include citrus fruits. There is no mention whatsoever of "same level" or any such qualifier.

    "For those onlookers, I encourage you to go read the bulk of the transcript; it takes a few minutes. Behe obviously doesn't think astrology is as "scientific" as ID; he doesn't think the former is supported by the facts."

    Yes, so do I. I can't tell if you are reading some heavily edited version, or if you are editing it yourself as you go - but unless I have forgotten English language in the last few weeks, the transcripts can be interpreted in your way only by intentionally twisting the meaning of every other sentence.

    "So to avoid the voting criterion of what is scientific, Behe proposed a looser definition that also included astrology, and when the lawyer pointed this out, Behe admitted it."

    Bull. Behe used that definition because he couldn't squeeze ID into any other. And the problem, for the millionth time, isn't lack of consensus: it is lack of any evidence whatsoever. Any. Experimental. Evidence. At. All.

    "Well, that's exactly what Demsbki's theorems claim to be. I haven't evaluated them yet, so I can't tell. (I know the physicists who came up with the initial NFL theorems disagree.)"

    You can start from here, and follow the links:

    http://www.talkorigins.org/indexcc/CF/CF011_2.html

    "As far as Behe, again, I'm not sure what you want him to do. (And I realize that's part of your point, that the ID people can't frame their views in terms of a reproducible experiment.)"

    What I want Behe to do? The same thing any scientist with a half-assed theory should: put up or shut up. I have several half-assed pet theories of my own; I occassionally will even discuss them with my colleagues. But I wouldn't dream of putting it up as a serious theory (especially if it counters some established piece of knowledge) without significant evidence to back it up.

    Behe has no evidence at all. He is stating his opinion as a fact, and when he is confronted with facts that contradict his opinions, he ignores them.

    "Behe is very knowledgeable about the complexity of biochemical processes in the cell, and he is simply saying, "Not only can I not imagine how a Darwinian process could've yielded this, I also have searched the literature and found an eerie silence on the topic."

    Which is a direct lie. Start from here, and follow the links:

    http://www.talkorigins.org/indexcc/CA/CA350.html

    And answer me this: why have you believed this claim without even attempting a literature search of your own?

    "Like I said, I don't know what Behe is supposed to do to publish on this opinion."

    Not publishing patently false statements would be a good start. And there are experiments that could be done: normal scientists won't do them because they are a waste of money and time. But Behe can do them, with DI funding, with little trouble. Directed evolution experiments can be attempted to measure the number of generations required for protein-protein interactions of the kind present in flagellum to evolve (an estimate exists, not favorable for ID). He can take a look at recently evolved complex structures (HIV docking system, Vancomycin resistance gene cluster), and explain how is it possible for such structures (which require multiple parts acting in very coherent manner, therefore irreducibly complex) to evolve, while the evolution of flagellum remains impossible. Etc, etc.

    There are any number of experiments (I can probably come up with a few dozen more) Behe could be attempting. But no; he won't touch actual biochemistry. He limits himself to computer simulations where he gets to fiddle with the constants...

    "Do you think we'll have a good description of how the bacterial flagellum could've evolved within ten years?"

    We have that now. We have several. What we don't have is enough evidence to say which one, if any, is correct.

    And yes, I believe that in ten to twenty years, we will be able to say. Currently, our main problems are the inability to grow many organisms in the lab (which limits the possibility of finding "transitional" systems that may exist out there), and problems with analyzing membrane proteins in general (it is insanely difficult to work with proteins that are anchored through a membrane; bacterial flagellum goes through two membranes and a wall, which makes it almost impossible to work with at all). Great strides are being made in both fields, and we can expect a lot of progress.

    Flagella are especially interesting, since controllable molecular motors would be very useful for myriad industrial and other applications. Once our systems for examining and assembling flagella in vitro become good enough, you can expect a great wave of research in that field.

    "No, it's not. Irreducible complexity is a well-defined term. If something is irreducibly complex, that by itself doesn't mean Dariwnism can't explain it. But let's postpone this particular argument for my next LRC article, which I'll post on this blog probably Tuesday or Wednesday. (Falsifiable prediction: You won't like the article.)"

    Easy guess. I have research to do, however, so reading it will have to wait for the next free time slot.

    "I realize you're upset about my article, and you think I'm raising public support for a pernicious group of people, but I think your above characterization is about as fair as asking Duane Gish (the "scientific creationist") to describe mainstream evolutionary biologists and how the operate."

    Actually, I think it is quite fair. If you think I am underestimating Dembski's math knowhow, find a professional mathematician and ask for an analysis.

    "Ah, so not only are we bad scientists, we're not even good Christians."

    I would certainly say so. I think that most creationists (including ID creationists) are insulting and demeaning God (if he exists). Science allows room for a vast, magnificent entity at the core of it all - just imagine, setting in motion the Big Bang, with a small set of immensely elegant laws; which lead to stars, which synthesize heavier elements, blow up - then the elements collapse into planets, and the same laws lead to life... It is incredibly elegant, the entire universe as a wonderful, growing system. Compared to that, the idea of a meddling, incompetent deity that has to destroy a nation (or sink the entire world underwater); or of a God that comes to Earth to play with our genes, because he couldn't make the universe well enough in the first place - well, I think He'd find that just insulting.

    But that's just my opinion. I'm not a Christian, so I can't say what makes a good Christian.

    "Wait a minute. If you're saying, "Do you agree that the vast majority of IDers are Christian?" then yes I do--just like I said in the article."

    I am saying that, and I am saying that we can't pretend that the vast majority of ID effort isn't funded by Christians who are trying to make their religion relevant in the modern world in a particularly silly (and counterproductive) way.

    As for Flew - I never heard of him until the whole deal about him chaning opinions. So, a man who has professed hard-core atheism, now at the end of his life and facing death, gets scared and calls to God; what in the world does that prove?

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  9. M. said:

    I think that most creationists (including ID creationists) are insulting and demeaning God (if he exists). Science allows room for a vast, magnificent entity at the core of it all - just imagine, setting in motion the Big Bang, with a small set of immensely elegant laws; which lead to stars, which synthesize heavier elements, blow up - then the elements collapse into planets, and the same laws lead to life... It is incredibly elegant, the entire universe as a wonderful, growing system.

    So do you think life is the result of an intelligently designed plan, or the result of a blind, purposeless, unguided process?

    If you say the former, then you fall in to the ID camp. And no, I'm not playing with words. I don't think Behe would necessarily disagree with your elegant description.

    Incidentally, have you read (portions of) Behe's book? I don't ask that accusingly, I'm just curious.

    Compared to that, the idea of a meddling, incompetent deity

    Give me a break. Say what you will about fundamentalist Christians, they don't believe in an incompetent deity.

    that has to destroy a nation (or sink the entire world underwater); or of a God that comes to Earth to play with our genes, because he couldn't make the universe well enough in the first place - well, I think He'd find that just insulting.

    So you think the Bible is insulting to God then?

    As for Flew - I never heard of him until the whole deal about him chaning opinions. So, a man who has professed hard-core atheism, now at the end of his life and facing death, gets scared and calls to God; what in the world does that prove?

    Why is this particular point so troubling? The ID camp is accused of not advancing a legitimate argument, and not really being convinced by the evidence, but instead just using a Trojan horse to smuggle in their previously held dogmas. So an atheist who turns and believes in ID, but still rejects the notion of an afterlife and a personal God, is incredibly relevant.

    Disclaimer: Apparently Flew re-retracted and now thinks there is good progress on naturalistic abiogenesis.

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  10. "So do you think life is the result of an intelligently designed plan, or the result of a blind, purposeless, unguided process?"

    I am very certain that life is a result of blind, unguided processes. Purposeless? Depends on how you define purpose. It is concievable that there may be a deity that has set down the basic laws of the universe in such a way that they will by necessity lead to life somewhere within the universe, and to intelligence at some of the places where there is life. I am not opposed to the hypothesis per se. But the key concept here is that there is no evidence for such an entity, and until there is, any speculation can only be based on fantasy.

    It boils down to the same answer I gave you when you asked about my religious standing. I am willing to accept evidence of a God, but I am unwilling to simply believe your word that you know who He is and what He wants of me - especially since your (I'm using "your" to encompass all believers) behavior contrasts drastically with what I would expect of people who know God. Pretty much the same here: I'm not opposed to the idea that the whole universe could be designed, but I won't believe it until I see the evidence; I certainly won't believe the word of ID proponents when they speak without any proof, and intersperse a large quantity of direct lies into their fantasy tales.

    "Incidentally, have you read (portions of) Behe's book? I don't ask that accusingly, I'm just curious."

    I have read it in entirety. With a large dose of incredulity, I might add. I sat in a bookstore to read it, and then I put it back on the shelf, since I refuse to give money to people who would publish such drivel.

    "Give me a break. Say what you will about fundamentalist Christians, they don't believe in an incompetent deity."

    Vast majority of Christians believe in a God that is omniscient (including foreknowledge), and omnipotent; all of them, I think, believe in the story of the Fall. Those three things necessarily imply a deity that is not only incompetent, but actually completely insane.

    To get some semblance of sanity, you must drop one of those attributes (omnipotence, omniscience, or the story of the Fall).

    That is just to start with. We could go on with the legend of Noah, the testing of Job; or even to the New Testament, and the sacrifice of Christ (where an omniscient! and ompnipotent! God has set up things in such a way as to be unable to forgive the sins of humanity unless he first sacrifices himself to himself).

    "So you think the Bible is insulting to God then?"

    In modern time, yes. I think the Bible gives a decent (but imperfect) idea of God for a Bronze Age tribe; it can be stretched to Iron Age, but not much further. To believe in it today, after everything we have learned about universe and ourselves is, in my opinion, supremely insulting not only to God, but to all of humankind.

    Mind you, I hold the same opinion of most other religious texts.

    "Why is this particular point so troubling? The ID camp is accused of not advancing a legitimate argument, and not really being convinced by the evidence, but instead just using a Trojan horse to smuggle in their previously held dogmas. So an atheist who turns and believes in ID, but still rejects the notion of an afterlife and a personal God, is incredibly relevant."

    Not necessarily. People go nuts all the time (especially in their old age), and people can also be misled, or they can follow an idea too far. You need to have some kind of a statistical sample; if you take isolated cases as proof, then you are opening mighty wide doors. For example, a "ufologist" could then say that there is great evidence for UFO abductions, since a Harvard professor (John Mack) believed in them without any reservations.

    "Disclaimer: Apparently Flew re-retracted and now thinks there is good progress on naturalistic abiogenesis."

    He was, actually, heavily lied to by some ID proponents, according to what I've heard. But I don't know enough.

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