Friday, February 02, 2007

Blog Visits, 3: Response by attacking the man, instead of addressing the issue

It is interesting to observe that there has been an overnight response on the current blog visit: sadly, attacking the man, instead of addressing the issue on the merits. (That inadvertently speaks volumes on the relative strengths of the cases in view!)

My onward response follows:



First, I see that A has gone off the rails on an irrelevancy not tied to this thread's focus [now that his six questions have been directly and briefly answered . . .], and that our bird friend has returned.

HRAFN – the name means Raven (one wonders if this is a certain anonymous commenter of another context . . . ) -- decides to both slander me as a liar and to violate the basic courtesy of blogs by citing a personal rather than the consultancy name I use. [Both are rather specific!] Observe that "he" ( a now quite likely inference) is neither able to address the substance on the thermodynamics nor is he willing to apologise for his slanders against Mr Bradley in the other thread, all of which are telling as to character and motivation.

More importantly, it tells us all we need to know about the confidently boasted of dismissals of the implications of the relevant thermodynamics and origin of information issues relative to the OOL.

On a few points worth remarking:

1] A: On religion and science

The proper basic category here is worldviews, within the wider ambit of philosophical discourse. As Lakatos pointed out long ago now, at the core of scientific research programmes are major worldview commitments, and the specific theories form a belt around that core. In short, scientific discourse occurs within the parameters of a broader universal discourse, philosophy. An interesting remark of Lakatos in that context [recalling here that good news reporting is "a first, rough draft of history"], is:
>>"Philosophy of science without history of science is empty; history of science without philosophy of science is blind.">>
In short both current and long-tern discussion of science matters should be informed by phil of Sci issues. That means immediately that the worldviews exposed by commenters are -- at least sometimes -- relevant to understanding how they address core issues in science. In that context, A's insistent attacks against those who differ with him , that htey are "religious" is more than aptly responded to by pointing out the inadvertent revelation implied by the use of "god" above by a commenter.

In short, like Dawkins, you cannot use a particular theory frame in science as a prop for your worldview and for evangelising atheism in the classroom and public square without properly drawing fire from those who know that that is what is going on, and who can point out the yawning gaps in such evolutionary materialism. The well-documented resort to censorship and persecution of such dissenters in that context then takes on the atmosphere of an inquisition.

2] H: responding to my "...the persecution of a fair-minded non-ID journal editor...", claims: Lying for Jesus again . . .Richard Sternberg is an ID-Creationist

First, the conflation of Design theory with the [Biblical] Creationist movement is propagandistic distortion.

For, design thought's roots go back to such “red-necked, Bible-thumping fundy yankees” -- NOT -- such as Plato, Socrates and Cicero, as I have documented by linking. Biblical Creationism is just that -- it often [though not always] uses the Bible as a source-book on what in its estimation is accurate data on the real as opposed to projected past. Design theory does not do this; it is a scientific movement that infers from empirical data in the present, and in the general context of the general [but not complete] consensus among scientists on the dating of the past [which BTW has its own problems, which are immaterial to this context of discussion], especially the signs of intelligence at work, to the existence of a source of such FSCI, agency. Had it not been for the dominance of an atheistic worldview in certain institutions of science, such inferences would simply be st the “no-brainer” level of obviousness. [Wonder why there is not a serious discussion on the merits but a resort to personalities, now including the pretence on H's part, that going to my web site and digging up my name is serious research and exposes something nefarious – that I often use my consusltancy name online? [BTW, in part thsat serves to protect me from spam surges . . .)]

Now, on Mr Sternberg. First, he explicitly identifies himself as specifically a process structuralist:
>>I subscribe to a school of biological thought often termed “process structuralism.” Process or biological structuralism is concerned with understanding the formal, generative rules underlying organic forms, and focuses on the system architectures of organisms and their interrelationships. Structuralist analysis is generally ahistorical, systems-oriented, and non-evolutionary (not anti-evolutionary). Both creationism and neo-Darwinism are, in contrast, emphatically historicist with one positing extreme polyphyly (de novo creation of species) and the other radical monophyly (common descent). Since the structuralist perspective runs somewhat perpendicular to the origins debate, creationists and evolutionists tend to see it as inimical to their positions. The truth is structuralism has little at stake in the origins issue, leaving a person like myself free to dialogue with all parties. For this reason, I frequently discourse with ultra-Darwinians, macromutationists, self-organization theorists, complexity theorists, intelligent design advocates, theistic evolutionists, and young-earth creationists without necessarily agreeing with any of their views.

Structuralism does, however, provide an important perspective on the origins debate. Structuralists' lack of commitment to an historical theory of biology allows them to explore the historical evidence more objectively. Moreover, because they focus on formal analysis, struturalists are far more open than neo-Darwinians to the powerful evidence for continuity within species (forms) and discontinuity between and among species. They also allow themselves to wonder about the cause of the amazing repetition of forms across the biological world rather than being forced by prior commitments to accept a major neo-Darwinian epicycle known as "convergent evolution.">>
I leave it to the onlooker to infer the sort of motivation that underlies the twisting of this stance into "ID-Creationist" -- intended as a term of rebuke.

H owes yet another apology, one to Mr Sternberg for propagating a misleading slander, and also one to me for improperly calling me a liar without going to primary sources first to see why I said what I said. But then, poor research skills (joined to want of broughtupcy -- a very useful Caribbean word) is now plainly a well-known, demonstrated characteristic of this commenter.

3] It is clear that Sternberg and Meyer hatched a plot to smuggle a later version of this paper into the journal that Sternberg edited (a clear betrayal of his employers . . .

A clear case of conspiracy mongering. For:
a] Mr Sternberg holds TWO PhDs in the relevant areas.

b] Mr Meyer holds a relevant PhD as well, especially for one writing a critical review addressing a research programme in unacknowledged crisis.

c] The paper -- whether or not submitted at the invitation of the Journal editor, on the testimony of the external investigator [acting under legal penalty for improper investigation!] was reported as passing "proper" peer review, by "renowned scientists."

d] Thus, the burden of showing it otherwise passes to those who stirred up criticisms. No-one who has had proper access to the peer review files has gone on record that this report is false, indeed, just the opposite. Passing of proper peer review is an uncontested fact.

e] What happens? We see attempts at dismissal and changing of subject to attacking the man, to the point of workplace harassment. This is stirred up in large part by a well-known Darwinist advocacy group, NCSE, working in tandem with some of Mr Sternberg's superiors in the Smithsonian. This too, is undisputed -- in short, H has indulged here in turnabout, evidently false, accusation.

f] On the substantial matter, to date there is no coherent, factually adequate, empirically well-anchored NDT explanation of the Cambrian Life explosion, something that Design easily explains.

g] Similarly, in the same general window of time, Lonnig in Germany shows in the peer reviewed literature how Design also accounts for stasis as well as the sudden appearances and disappearances.
4] a pack of unsubstantiated lies spread by a pack of Creationists and Right-wing culture warriors . . . in an attempt to turn a dishonest and double-dealing Creationist into a martyr. It is interesting to note that none of these attempts have any official standing whatsoever

Let's see: Mr McVay is an official investigator of the US Federal Government's Office of Special Counsel, overseeing the Civil Service:
>>The U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC) is an independent federal investigative and prosecutorial agency. Our basic authorities come from three federal statutes, the Civil Service Reform Act, the Whistleblower Protection Act, and the Hatch Act . . . . OSC’s primary mission is to safeguard the merit system by protecting federal employees and applicants from prohibited personnel practices, especially reprisal for whistleblowing. For a description of prohibited personnel practices (PPPs), click on the prohibited personnel practices link.>>
Second, having conducted an investigation, Mr McVay went on record, which can be seen here. The basic facts and documents brought into the record though this are as uncontested as they are devastating. [The reason no further action was taken up att hat level is because of the technical peculiarities of Mr Sternberg's contract, not the serious nature of what was shown.]

At the next level, the investigation issued a: "STAFF REPORT PREPARED FOR THE HON. MARK SOUDER CHAIRMAN, SUBCOMMITTEE ON CRIMINAL JUSTICE, DRUG POLICY AND HUMAN RESOURCES DECEMBER 11, 2006." Such a report has both official standing as well, and is by the relevant chairman acting in his proper jurisdiction. The facts and issues, again are without serious dispute, as can be seen here and here.

In short, H again shows his usual resort to attacking the man instead of dealing with the issue. Sort of like how the C17 pope ill-advisedly backed the inquisition in its dealings with a certain Galileo, even though he had once protected him when he was a cardinal, because G had put the pope's words on the limitations of science [words in which there was more than a grain of truth] in the mouth of Simplicio, made to look like an idiot by G in his critical review on the status of Ptolemaic vs Copernican astronomical theories.

5] a thoroughly dishonest charlatan.

Onlookers, just read the documents, to see that the official investigations conclude and on the merits, that improper conduct on the part of the relevant officials was shown. The alleged “charlatan” -- and on track record of H's lack of credentials to assess Mr Bradley, we know the basic problem there -- holds two relevant PhDs, and as editor published an article that passed proper peer review by renowned scientists.

6] Minnich specifically disavowed any involvement in research into the evolution of the flagellum: I'm not funded to look at the evolution of the flagellum. I'm funded to look at its effect in terms of regulation and virulence and type III secretion. ... [the evolution of the flagellum is] not the emphasis of my work."

The genetic analysis of the TTSS is of course directly and highly relevant to the evolution of the bacterial flagellum, as the genes expressed to give the toxin injector are a in effect a subset of those for the flagellum.

Peterson's summary [which was reported in the page I link in my web page in my sign-off, and from which H has probably drawn out my identity by onward links] is interesting:
>>. . . . Kenneth Miller, a biologist at Brown University who argues in favor of Darwinian evolution, made a splash when he announced (and he bolded the language in his article) that "the bacterial flagellum is not irreducibly complex." Miller cited a cellular structure known as the type III secretory system (TTSS) that allows certain bacteria to inject toxins through the cell walls of their hosts . . . .

But . . . the bubonic plague bacterium already has the full set of genes necessary to make a flagellum. Rather than making a flagellum, Y. pestis uses only part of the genes that are present to manufacture that . . . injector instead. As pointed out in a recent article by design theorist Stephen Meyer and microbiologist Scott Minnich (an expert on the flagellar system), the gene sequences suggest that "flagellar proteins arose first and those of the pump came later." If evolution was involved, the pump came from the motor, not the motor from the pump. Also, "the other thirty proteins in the flagellar motor (that are not present in the [pump]), are unique to the motor and are not found in any other living system." . . . In short, the proteins in the TTSS do not provide a "gradualist" Darwinian pathway to explain the step-by-step evolution of the irreducibly complex flagellar motor.>>
Why does he say that Minnich is an expert on the system in view? The bio/resume page describing Mr Minnich as a Fellow of DI offers a clue: "Biochemist Michael Behe used the flagella to illustrate the concept of irreducible complexity and Minnich takes the argument to the next level crediting the design paradigm to leading to new insights in his lab research at the University of Idaho." His ISCID bio/resume page -- apart from a horrid photo -- has this to say: "Dr. Minnich's research interests are temperature regulation of Y. [Yeresina] enterocolitca gene expression and coordinate reciprocal expression of flagellar and virulence genes." Finally, his peer-reviewed paper (highlighted by DI in the list of such ID supportive papers) is titled: "Genetic analysis of coordinate flagellar and type III regulatory circuits in pathogenic bacteria" i.e. exactly at the intersection just described.

Thus, it is obvious that H has twisted a point in testimony to try to detract from the force of Mr Minnich's relevant expertise -- a now familiar tactic.

7] FSCI and IC:

Picking and choosing "experts" who tickle your itching ears with what you want to hear, H, is simple folly.

8] A: [NDT is] The best, most elegant theory of the development of life. Supported by 150 years of investigation and evidence. It's pretty good.

More accurately, it is a theory in unacknowledged crisis, forced to truncate its account of the origins of life as it cannot explain the rise of FSCI to create cellular nanotechnology. Then, within that circumscribed orbit, a theory that works for MICRO evolution [often by loss of genetic information . . .] is then unwarrantedly expanded to try to explain the origin of body-plan innovation level biodiversity, and runs into deep trouble starting with the Cambrian life revolution -- right at the beginning, and based on for 150 years failing to fit the fossil record which is often touted as its principal evidence.

Meyer's remarks in that now famous paper are apt:
>>In order to explain the origin of the Cambrian animals, one must account not only for new proteins and cell types, but also for the origin of new body plans . . . Mutations in genes that are expressed late in the development of an organism will not affect the body plan. Mutations expressed early in development, however, could conceivably produce significant morphological change (Arthur 1997:21) . . . [but] processes of development are tightly integrated spatially and temporally such that changes early in development will require a host of other coordinated changes in separate but functionally interrelated developmental processes downstream. For this reason, mutations will be much more likely to be deadly if they disrupt a functionally deeply-embedded structure such as a spinal column than if they affect more isolated anatomical features such as fingers (Kauffman 1995:200) . . . McDonald notes that genes that are observed to vary within natural populations do not lead to major adaptive changes, while genes that could cause major changes--the very stuff of macroevolution--apparently do not vary. In other words, mutations of the kind that macroevolution doesn't need (namely, viable genetic mutations in DNA expressed late in development) do occur, but those that it does need (namely, beneficial body plan mutations expressed early in development) apparently don't occur.6 >>
9] Atheism isn't a religion. To quote "atheism is a religion in the same way not colecting stamps is a hobby".

Atheism is the denial of the existence of a personal God, which is often embedded in worldviews that function as quasi-religions, e.g secular [descriptive use] humanism, as can be seen from the three relevant manifestos.

10] we should teach angels as a scientific theory? As a matter of interest: how many can balance on the head of a pin?

Onlookers, recall that up to yesterday, A was busily saying that his stack of questions was being ducked. Now that I paused to answer them, he changes the subject to religion bashing.

What does that tell us further on his motivations and agendas? Why is he not engaging the Lakatosian issues: the relevant theories and the core philosophical/worldview issues, that I have put explicitly on the table?

Now,as a matter of fact,the much derided philosophical scholastic debate on how many angels could fit on the head of a pin [more likely, how many could stand on the POINT of a pin, which if it does not reflect light is of order ~ 0.1 micron or so; knife sharpening is a hobby of mine . . . reflecting my fascination with the very interesting micro physics involved; latest discovery, marble stone tiles can keen an edge to an astonishing degree . . .] was in fact about a serious enough philosophical subject: the difference between location and extension.

Notice, the relevant scientific education issues are:
[1] to teach not just the orthodox NDT and its cognate OOL and cosmological evolutionary models as if they are uncontested fact, but to also bring out strengths and weaknesses [i.e teaching MORE about the theories of evolution than is usually taught . . .],

[2] to allow informed discussion of emerging paradigms and the philosophical and historical context of scientific theory evolution and revolution as a part of responsible science education,

[3] to in that context permit discussion of possible alternative paradigms and their claimed supportive evidence.
The changing of subject here is mute testimony to the obviously unjustifiable nature of the indoctrination involved in pretending that NDT is unproblematic as the evolutionary materialist paradigm's flagship theory.

11] citing a commenter: "even atheist beliefs (evolution)", then remarking: Logical error! logical error! See above.

In fact the often encountered modern pretense that atheists are simply people "without belief in god" is belief by the insistence on the use of the lower case – as, if memory serves, A himself did above in this thread.

That is, atheists still insist that they KNOW that there is no "god" and so -- denials notwithstanding -- open themselves up to the point that their rather limited, fallible claimed knowledge base permits of no such universal negative. {The dangers of asserting universal negatives on matters of claimed fact are of course a notorious problem in epistemology and logic.)

A more humble – and in some cases, more more honest -- answer is that they are a-gnostic, i.e in doubt on the existence of God.

In that case, evidence relating to the finetuning of the cosmos of finite temporal duration that we observe [i.e. it is a contingent being and non-self-explanatory], should open up the point made by say Craig [in the serious level literature and discussed by me with explanatory and expansion notes to cover more recent thoughts, here], that such a non-self-explaining world raises the hard to dodge issue of the sufficient reason for it: WHY.

The most credible, and long-standing answer in philosophy is: contingent beings -- e.g. that which begins to exist has a cause -- are best explained in light of necessary beings that are self-explanatory. In that PHILOSOPHICAL context [i.e. it does not belong in the exposition of science in the classroom, but in the discussion of its phil context,the cause of a life-friendly, vast and power-packed cosmos is by IBE a personal, intentional, necessary being. That is of course far from modern theism [e.g. Plato's Demi-Urge irresistibly playing with forms will at least arguably adn in part do . . .] but it is a large advance over both atheism and agnosticism.

12] Banning religion from science classes is not puting an end to "science""

Banning quasi-religions, such as secularistic humanism and associated fundy atheism, from:
preaching and evangelising evolutionary materialism in the classroom in the name of science without giving room for debate on the worldviews issues and the limitations on the relevant theories and models [cf Wells on the all too often misleadingly presented Icons of Evolution here]
. . .is equally proper as a defense of science from being abused to push a worldview agenda by propagandistic indoctrination as opposed to entertaining responsible worldviews dialogue and debate..


In short, observe that as soon as serious answers are put,the goal posts are moved and new issues are raised that are equally ill-founded. These are the marks of a desperate defensive for a system that has lost offensive power but can use its remaining defensive power to stave off obvious defeat as long as possible. In short the issue is to end the horror with dignity, or to insist on a prolonged horror sustained as long as possible. (That is, Hitler, circa June - September 1944, would have been well-advised to make peace. His failure to do so simply made things worse for the German people.)




I think this is telling on the attitude and tactics that we will increasingly enounter in our own region, not only on issues tied to the secularist tidal wave, but also on other topics (including Islamis, and other similar subjects).

Sadly, civility is now at a steep discount, as is intellectual rigour. But, in a sense, that is not surprising. Long ago, Paulo, Apostolo, Mart said it all:

This is the same issue embedded in the concept that a point has location but no size, just more colourfully put.
Rom 1:19 . . . what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities--his eternal power and divine nature--have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.

RO 1:21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles [yesteryear, in temples, today, often in museums, textbooks and on TV] . . . .
RO 1:28 . . . since they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, he gave them over to a depraved mind, to do what ought not to be done. 29 They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; 31 they are senseless, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32 Although they know God's righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.
RO 2:6 God "will give to each person according to what he has done." 7 To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life. 8 But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger. 9 There will be trouble and distress for every human being who does evil . . . 10 but glory, honor and peace for everyone who does good . . . 11 For God does not show favoritism . . . . 14 (Indeed, when [men without the Scriptures] . . . do by nature things required by the [biblical] law, they . . . 15 . . . show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts now accusing, now even defending them.) . . . .
RO 13:8 Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for he who loves his fellowman has fulfilled the law. 9 The commandments, "Do not commit adultery," "Do not murder," "Do not steal," "Do not covet," and whatever other commandment there may be, are summed up in this one rule: "Love your neighbor as yourself." 10 Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.
Dead on target -- as usual for Paul.

Let us pray that heartts and consciences will be stirred, and minds opened as a result to see the truth. END

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