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Thought-blocking Pettiness

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When I wrote on intelligent design last week, I knew I was in for some fan-mail. The interesting part about the fan-mail is that instead of effectively criticizing my article, it actually proves my point.

The column takes no position on intelligent design, namely it does not defend it as science (and, in fact, outright says it isn’t science) but suggests that it should not be treated as a forbidden question to ask. There is no indication to the intelligent reader that the position is to remove evolution and replace it with ID. That is, unless the reader is encumbered by thought-blocking pettiness.

In fact, the column even goes so far to suggest that evolution as a theory of creation may be proven true over time. However, the search for truth is not aided by insisting assumptions go unchallenged and that certain questions must not be asked.

However, when the responses came in through the blogosphere or through e-mail or the paper it became clear why many people are concerned about the level of literacy among undergrads, the common citizens, and for that matter the Ph.D. holders.

Skipping past the absurdity of making an “intelligent defense” of science using ad hominems, it is clear that those authors are not actually responding to what was said in the column but engaging in trench warfare at the mere mention of intelligent design. It demonstrates not that science is defensible, but that the modern state of “science” militantly demands certain questions and fields on inquiry should be banned. ID may or may not be science… but is it true?

The behavior exhibited by those who man the trenches at the moment ID is mentioned is not that of a free, open, and inquiring mind, but the behavior of a mind that snaps shut like a steel trap when their assumptions are challenged.

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About John Doe

A political activist and security expert.
  • You might suggest that the moon is made of blue cheese and the stars are little fires in the sky lit by aliens, and I’ll entirely defend your right to say it. That doesn’t mean I have to take a fairytale seriously.

  • That’s true, but if there was evidence the moon was made of blue cheese that rejection wouldn’t be scientific.

    If you get past the James Dobson crowd which are more accurately described as fair-weather fans, you get to the core of ID which is based on observation, not based on some philosophical construct to try to insert God somehow.

  • John: but the moon isn’t made of blue cheese and you know it. That wouldn’t be thought-blocking pettiness, would it?

    The main reason for not treating ID with respect is that non of the faithists have yet shown evidence of gods, so any concept of ID is moot.

  • gonzo marx

    oh John B….

    again you rip up this canard?

    last time i explain it for ya…

    there is NO science in ID…it does NOT qualify as science, a scientific theory or even a provable/disprovable hypothesis

    thus, it falls into the category of metaphysics…which is where it truly belongs, and where it’s contemplation might help advance Thought

    but it still ain’t science…

    your allegation sez..
    *you get to the core of ID which is based on observation, not based on some philosophical construct to try to insert God somehow.*

    completely factually inaccurate…

    ID is NOT based on empirical data collection and observation, but on purely subjective “gut feeling” towards objective phenomena

    you want it counted as science..simnplicity itself

    show ANY experiment that can either prove, or disprove your hypothesis

    describe the hypothesis mathematically, and test it’s validity…prove or disprove

    utilize the hypothesis to repeatedly and verifiable predict the outcome of pertinent future data gathering in advance of said data beng collected

    those are some of the rigors science has to utilize…ID has done NONE of these things yet

    remember kiddies, ID = metaphysics

    now…for those still confused go and look all those nice words up

    nuff said?


  • No gonzo, it’s right on point.

    You can lie or be ignorant about it all you want. ID is based on observation, that is fact. To say otherwise is to be a liar or to be ignorant. Which are you?

  • ID is NOT science, but it is still possibly CORRECT (though practically impossible to verify as such). And, of course, ID and evolution are NOT neccesarily mutually exclusive…

  • For instance, all believers in ID must, logically, concede that small-time “evolution” occurs. Species have become extinct, and other species have “evolved” over numerous generations due to changing environmental factors (typica moths and peppered moths in England, anyone?).

  • RogerMDillon

    “ID is based on observation,”

    The observation that science constantly disputes religious belief, which shakes people’s faith. You don’t see a design in the world. It’s the way your brain works that it needs to see a design where none exists.

    If you think ID has nothing to do with inserting God then “you can lie or be ignorant about it all you want.”

    Can’t wait for your next article about the earth being the center of the universe.

  • It’s based on the observation that I can’t figure out how all this shit started so…it must be ID…no?

  • troll

    Bambi – I absolutely agree with you that courses in ID should be offered at Universities – by the Philosophy and/or Theology departments

    further – while 1st Cause doesn’t work as a scientific explanation…so what – ? the particular observations that IDers would use as evidence of the necessity for a new faithist (thanks to C Rose) definition of science do need to be dealt by the physical sciences

    but that’s not the point of your post – what you want to discuss is how you wrote this perfectly reasonable open-minded article and a bunch of closed minded people crapped all over it

    the reason is clear – reread your own work – you imply that ‘ID may or may not be science…’ which simply is a false statement by the modern definition of science as a system of ‘conjecture and refutation’ (Popper)

    you got exactly the response that you sought – your juvenile sophistry is transparent


  • gonzo marx

    John B sez…
    *ID is based on observation, that is fact. To say otherwise is to be a liar or to be ignorant. Which are you?*

    well now..i’ll let the gentle Readers be the judge of my condition…

    you claim ID is based on “observation”….

    i stated in my comment above that ALL the so called “observational” information is purely SUBJECTIVE….and thus does not qualify for empirical evidence or even useful data under the scientific model of inquiry

    reading comprehension for the win there John…

    nice try…but why not attempt to Answer the Questions i pose above….and supply data or links that deal with those Questions

    i’ll bet you can’t

    because there is NO such data out there

    ID = Metaphysics

    and that’s not a bad thing, but trying to paint a dog with spots and calling him a pony ain’t honest, and it ain’t gonna work

    only the gullible, ignorant or deliberately deceitful woudl do so…

    so, which are you John?


  • Dave Nalle

    Good point, troll. If it may or may not be a science, then it’s not a science.


  • troll

    Gonzo – the improbabilities involved in evolution do imply that some other as yet undiscovered physical law(s) are operating…not all of ID’s observation are totally subjective


  • gonzo marx

    well troll, i am all for new evidentiary findings..

    as always, i only spoke of what i have seen/read so far…and i stand by my earlier commentary

    i woudl gladly go over any data that could be shown to be Objective, or would pass muster as scientific evidence leading towards formulation of an Hypothesis

    i just ain’t seen any yet

    this does not denigrate the usefullness of the ID assertations as an excercise in Metaphysics…nor do i belittle Metaphysics itself…

    it’s just that neither are science…hence my desire to keep “dogs” and “ponys” seperate


  • Maurice

    Professors Bambeneck’s observation is being proven in these comments.

  • gonzo marx

    well now Maurice, i would disagree there…

    i consider John B’s baeline postulate to be utterly fallacious

    the problem comes with Definitions…to my point of view, it appears that proponents of ID desire to change the definitions used in scientific nomenclature in order to stuff the ID concept into what are considered empirical scientific realms without conforming to the standards and procedures utilized in the formulation of scientific Theory

    that is a far cry from his claim that folks on the science side decry ID from philosophical differences

    nothing is further from the Truth…no matter the assertations

    i welcome the discussion in the realm of Metaphysics or Philosophy, and eagerly await any evidence procured via the scientific methodology currently utilized foor peer review and experimentation

    so far..not ONE possible experiment to prove/disprove ID has been set forward to my knowledge….nor ANY mathematical model for predictive purposes

    fair enough?


  • Maurice

    I took his point as being that people would not be able to discuss it calmly.

    Certainly the volume level goes up if there are any comments about evolution being only a theory.

  • troll

    golly gee Maurice – this all seems like a pretty calm discussion to me


  • I got your calm right here troll! j/k…

  • troll

    so that’s where it went – please return it…I’m decompensating


  • Whether it is or is not science is not the point (and I conceded that it isn’t as science is defined in the column I linked to). Where it is should be taught is not addressed in my column either, by choice.

    However, if you take away the 6-day Creationist fair-weather fans, you’re left with scientists in their fields who have observed things that evolution cannot explain and must have been “caused” outside the system as the system is defined. I’m not saying I believe in ID, but if there is evidence that evolution is insufficient when it comes to the origins of life, ignoring ID is not well-serving the scientific community.

  • gonzo marx

    oh yes…and evolution IS only a scientific Theory

    it just happens to be the best one we have so far, and has passed the rigors of scientific review via the methodology i pointed out earlier

    (anyone seen the two new “missing links”? a fish crawling out of the muck in Canada, and a 4.1 million year old african ancestor)

    and have i been anything other than calm?


  • Maurice

    Well said, John. The title of this piece is spot on.

  • troll

    *you’re left with scientists in their fields who have observed things that evolution cannot explain and must have been “caused” outside the system as the system is defined.*

    these statements about an ‘outside’ 1st Cause made by scientists are meta-science – that is they are not well formed scientific statements…ie they are properly the subject of metaphysics (and/or theology)

    I suggest the the physical/statistical observations that have been made will be explained through the discovery physical laws that do not rely on 1st Cause and thus remain within the realm of traditionally defined science


  • gonzo marx

    the fallacy here is that evolution and ID are an either/or proposition

    this is the fallacious postulate that destroys any semblance of Logic in this discourse

    evolution is a Theory, as such…if the empirical data shows something that doesn’t fit, either the Theory is amended, or a new one that DOES fit the data is put forward of peer review and to be subjected to the rigors of scientific evidentiary experimentation and mathematical modelling

    so far, that just ain’t happened…

    merely stating that because you see a flaw in a Theory that another unproven, metaphysical hypothesis must be the answer is just plain wrong…

    as wrong as the times in history when metaphysics was substituted for science…

    see: phlogiston, alchemy and “ether”(aether)

    nuff said?


  • Maurice


    the theory that the sun revolved around the earth stood the test of time when no one was allowed to consider any alternatives.

  • gonzo marx

    and when have i stated not to consider any alternatives, or at any time said anything against testing and refuting ANY accepted scientific Theory?

    go and search, you won’t find it

    if you noticed, once the scientific methodology was applied to the sun/earth question…the fallacious postulate was tossed out, a better model that fit the facts, data and math were set in place…and even MORE was uncovered by extrapolation of predictive models due to the new Theory

    THAT is science in action

    all i have asked is…where is the “science” of ID?

    where is any proof or disproof beyond ” it seems like”?

    quantifiable and qualifiable data, empirical experimentation to prove or disprove…hell, a basic mathematical model that can be tested

    until you start setting those types of things up, then ID has no place in science…and Metaphysics does not mix well with science except as a place to find Ideas that can then be subjected to the rigors of study

    i truly don’t get why some folks can’t understand these basic concepts


  • Maurice

    “if you noticed, once the scientific methodology was applied to the sun/earth question…the fallacious postulate was tossed out…”

    Not true. People were put to death as heretics just for expressing an idea that the accepted notion on sun orbiting earth might be wrong.

    I’ve never accused you of anything. I am just saying Prof. Bambenek is correct in his assertion that people react violently to this topic.

  • gonzo marx

    ok Maurice…your analogy falls apart when you consider not one person has been put to death as an heretic for questioning evolutionary theory

    and my statement about the application of scientific theory to the sun/earth bit was absolutely True

    your counter argument is where the logical fallacy resides, as i have just pointed out

    sometimes analogies work well in discussion…sometimes they don’t


  • Maurice

    To quote the Professor,

    “The behavior exhibited by those who man the trenches at the moment ID is mentioned is not that of a free, open, and inquiring mind, but the behavior of a mind that snaps shut like a steel trap when their assumptions are challenged.”

    I don’t have a dog in this fight since I have no ideas of the origin of man. I do think there are more flaws in the theory of evolution than believers want to admit.

  • dog fighting is illegal.

  • gonzo marx

    nad i, as well as the vast majority of the scientific community, remain open to new Ideas

    the problem here is that no new scientific Idea is being put forward by ID…merely faith based assertations that d0o not pass muster when it comes to scientific criteria…

    you may contend that plants grow due to pixies, this does not mean any science type should take it seriously until you have gathered evidence for not only the existance of pixies, but their interaction with plants

    so the whole false and baseless accusation of “snaps shut” proves an agenda by the Poster, but no factual datum to bolster the position

    read: sophistry

    nuff said?


  • Maurice

    Perhaps this site will provide some answers:


    Have you been touched by his noodly appendage?

  • gonzo marx

    heh…JuJu defies your noodle god!

    but again, good sophistry, even better with Humor

    doesn’t change my Points, but half credit at the deflection attempt


  • Don

    As a “common citizen” I have posted a response to the ID column. It is more pointed than my initial response. Find it here:

  • Gonzo-

    The comment you made about either/or is one of the few times I agree with you. You are spot on there. The problem with the ID debate is that people entrench and not consider the ideas that ID offers. Nothing is served by that. I don’t see real attempts to look at irreducible complexity or the other observable phenomena that ID presents. That’s bad. I see people manning the trenches instead.

    I’m not a biologist. Strictly speaking, at best I’m a physicist, but can only really claim expertise in information security and perhaps in warfare being trained as a military officer. However, I see nothing gained by the behavior, which I have observed, of sticking one’s head in the sand when it comes to the various observations that ID brings. (Meaning the ID not brought in by the zealots and fair-weather fans).

    There have been dozens of peer-reviewed articles on ID. Dozens. It’s is producing “science”. It should be dealt with, not ignored. And in the end, evolution may win out. But at least we’ll know why instead of it being that evolution wins because it’s the loudest.

  • gonzo marx

    please cite or link to this “science” you speak of concerning ID

    it ain’t there

    there are more fallacies in your assumptions

    gigo’s law applies here, John

    and it IS being “dealt” with..as Metaphysics, it is a valuable discussion

    it just ain’t science yet…until it is, the point is moot

    as for keeping eyes open and working on improving current Theories in the scientific community…

    that happens every day, all day, all over the world…it’s the very basis for how science works, by definition as well as practice

    so…show me the science plz…k?



  • Maurice


    I read your response and agree.

    gonzo – you have convinced me.

  • troll

    you might want to look at Judge Jones’ summary of Behe’s testimony in Kitzmiller v. Dover Area School District 4…by 2005 Behe himself had backed off from his earlier claims re irriducible complexity – something about being under oath I guess

    it’s pretty clear that ‘irreducible complexity’ isn’t one of those observable phenomena that ID presents for scientific examination


  • Hey, in all this, I’m glad I was taught both. But I was probably taught the ID or creationism, as they called it back in the day, in religion class. The advantages of a private school education. Thank god my father didn’t want me to grow up to be a truck driver like him.

    and as far as catholic school goes…Billy Joel was WRONG!

  • Duane

    Andy, I would really like to be taught all about the ID conjecture. How long will it take? Do I need a degree in anything? Do I have to study? Is there really anything more to it than “Gee, scientists don’t have all the answers, so there must be an Intelligent Creator”?

  • gonzo marx

    Duane sez…
    *Is there really anything more to it than “Gee, scientists don’t have all the answers, so there must be an Intelligent Creator”?*

    Quoted for Truth

    holy moley…they let the real Scientist into the “room”… good luck kiddies

    my ducats are on Duane


  • Godisinthedetails

    Genesis aside for a moment~the book of Job in the Bible is worthy of consideration in the matter of “ID”, or as believers would say, God’s creation. Chapter 38 through 40 is amazing. God is speaking to Job (yes it’s really God and Job is a real historical non-evolved human! Not ashamed in the least to be in this camp!)
    Open minded? Really? OK then: God is declaring some important truths to him, not that He is obligated to-but because He loves Job as he does all His creation. (He of course knows we are reading it too-it is FOR US). God gives some detailed information about His animal kingdom, constellations, the elements-stuff WE can’t make from scratch. I am in favor of a simple requirement/policy that educators would teach (like in years past) that evolution is a theory and that there is another belief system-GOD as creator. Comparative religion class could handle the rest, at least in the sense of presenting the various world religions without pointing in one direction. Most believers don’t want the state to even attempt to educate about the Creator-just to say that there IS a universal belief God is the starting point for everything.
    Does God need state education for His truths to be heard? As if! That is not what it’s about.
    I am not an academic, but am no fool: Belief starts in the heart~not the head. Didn’t post here to impress, debate, or make sarcastic comments. Just came across this while looking for a different blog. An “accident” if you will. Please insert smiley faced emoticon.

  • Duane – I think you got it already. Your diploma is in the mail.

  • Druxxx

    When are the ID supporters going to get it?

    God could be the push behind evolution. Maybe god is using evolution to get to a perfect end point.

    The thing is, science should not care. Their job is to uncover the mechanisms that cause evolution. Throwing up your hands and saying, “its to complex, god designed it. That’s all we need to know.” Is that good enough for the ID crowd? Should we just close down all the labs at all the universities and say, “there is no more need to figure it out because we have. God did it, ands that’s good enough.”

    Evolution is not perfect, but there has been enough observation and experiments to back those observations to say evolution is happening.

    I have been on many threads involving ID and still no ID supported has answered this question in any kind of reasonable way.

    If new species are not a result of evolution, where do they come from?

    When god is ready for a new species, does it just fall from the sky? Do rocks suddenly become new living things that we have not seen before?

    What about extinction? If god were this all-great intelligent designer, why would some of his creations fail?

    I believe in a higher order, be it one god or a committee or whatever. I do believe in an after life. I choose to have no part in any one religion, but that’s a topic for another time. What I am getting at is this. ID and evolution can cohabitate. I choose to believe evolution is the method of ID. Evolution shows that the power behind ID could be using a little trial and error.

    That being said, keep ID out of the science classroom. It can only hinder science. Its only place in a public school should be in a religion class that covers all the major religions.

  • John Bambenek said:
    There have been dozens of peer-reviewed articles on ID. Dozens. It’s is producing “science”.

    Citations? Links? At best there are one or two, and their bona fides are much in question. The idea that there is peer-reviewed ID literature is thoroughly debunked here.

  • troll

    thanks for the link Jim –

    to plagiarize the gonzo – sort of

    evidence > prejudice


  • One more link, this one from Cornell evolutionary biologist Allen Macneill at Dispatches from the Culture Wars. The last paragraph is particularly relevant here, I think.

  • A group that has to claim themselves as martyrs usually does so because they can’t stand on the truth anymore.

    Everytime a Christian claims persecution, it’s derided. But now we have to take it seriously because someone has a different point of view?

    I like how the rules of the game always seem to change when it a certain demographic.

  • John Bembanek said:
    A group that has to claim themselves as martyrs usually does so because they can’t stand on the truth anymore.

    You’re referring to Christians, I take it?

  • gonzo marx

    note how comment #49 attempts to distort and distract from the Topic and Issue at hand…

    note again how John B completely avoids and evades ANY of the points brought up, and instead attempts to distort the views of a cited link form a scientist (Allen Macneill) who sez…
    *I will agree with one assertion of Dembski and his ilk: there is a “cultural war” being waged in the popular media. It’s a war on science and the objective understanding of nature, a war that was declared by the enemies of science, by people like Phillip Johnson and William Dembski. And, as the old saying goes, the first casualty of war is the truth. It’s time for everybody on both sides of the issue to face the fact that Dembski and his cohorts are either profoundly deluded, or deliberate, bald-faced liars. My money’s on the clean-shaven hypothesis…*

    nothing about “persecution” or “martyrs” in that statement, is there?

    nuff said?