Friday, December 23, 2005

Fuller, a Benedict Arnold for ID?

Steven Fuller's testimony in Dover (for the creationists) wound up backfiring dramatically. His casual acceptance of IDC as creationism, his insistence on its religious status, and his confident demand for "scientific affirmative action" all gave Judge Jones copious opportunities to declare that IDC isn't science.

In the Times Higher Education Supplement, he advances the same absurd claims. For instance:

Nevertheless, if the history of genetics is treated as distinct from that of neo-Darwinism, the "playing God" theme becomes even clearer over the 20th century, especially with advances in molecular biology and now biotechnology. Geneticists have been always keen to speed the processes of evolution by experimenting on species such as the fruit fly, whose reproductive patterns might allow the equivalent of billions of years of change to occur over, say, the six days stipulated in Genesis.
This is a long way of saying "If we ignore the last century of biological research, science looks like it did in the 19th century. If we also ignore what scientists actually do, scientists behave just like creationists."

But he does explain some things that I didn't know:
In updating the mechanical world-view [aka, the scientific method of testing hypotheses bound by natural laws -TfK] IDT is less a rival theory of life to Darwin's than a more ambitious theory of "design" that is indifferent to the distinction between living things and inanimate objects. This shift in scientific focus helps to explain IDT's peculiar modes of reasoning - why, say, the biochemist Michael Behe moves so easily between reasoning about the design of mousetraps and cells.
You see, I always thought it was because Behe's analysis was simplistic, and mousetraps are simpler than cells. Plus, I always sort of figured it was a way of dodging an actual discussion of the cell.

But I was wrong. If Fuller is to be believed (and he's an expert!), IDolators actually don't see the difference between living things and non-living things.

Judge Jones explains the difference nicely:
Unlike biological systems, human artifacts do not live and reproduce over time. They are non-replicable, they do not undergo genetic recombination, and they are not driven by natural selection. For human artifacts, we know the designer’s identity, human, and the mechanism of design, as we have experience based upon empirical evidence that humans can make such things, as well as many other attributes including the designer’s abilities, needs, and desires. With ID, proponents assert that they refuse to propose hypotheses on the designer’s identity, do not propose a mechanism, and the designer, he/she/it/they, has never been seen. … Professor Behe’s only response to these seemingly insurmountable points of disanalogy [which he and Minnich acknowledged on the stand -TfK] was that the inference still works in science fiction movies.

The Judge cited Fuller's testimony 10 separate times to show that ID was religion, was creationism, was not science as we know it, and has not produced useful results. Could he be perpetrating a hoax on the IDolators?

Working Undercover for the Man” by They Might Be Giants from the album Mink Car (2001, 2:20).