RSS 2.0 Feed

» Welcome Guest Log In :: Register

    
  Topic: John Marburger on ID & evolution< Next Oldest | Next Newest >  
Jason Spaceman



Posts: 163
Joined: Nov. 2005

(Permalink) Posted: April 28 2008,22:07   

Dan Greenberg, from the Chronicle of Higher Education, recently interviewed Bush's science adviser John Marburger.  Part of the interview touched on ID and evolution education:

Quote
Q. So, you voluntarily stepped forward to offer an explanation for this little remark that he made that was over-interpreted?

A. My statements about intelligent design are pretty straightforward. Itís not science and in no way should it be compared with science or discussed as a science topic. And as far as evolution is concerned, itís inconceivable that we could be where we are in our understanding of biology if we didnít have evolution as a guiding intellectual tool. So, I have no problems speaking about those things. Iím not trying to defend somethingóanyoneís belief on this or to attack it. But I donít think the president needs very much defending. This is not an issue that he has tried to make anything of.

   
jnewl



Posts: 2
Joined: May 2008

(Permalink) Posted: May 06 2008,00:28   

[quote=Jason Spaceman,April 28 2008,22:07][/quote]
   
Quote
Q. So, you voluntarily stepped forward to offer an explanation for this little remark that he made that was over-interpreted?

A. My statements about intelligent design are pretty straightforward. Itís not science and in no way should it be compared with science or discussed as a science topic.


It depends upon what is meant by science. It's not experimental science, but then neither is evolution. Darwin belongs to the Aristotelian tradition, the difference being that where Aristotle affirmed the existence of final causes, Darwin denies them. That's a legitimate position and one that Aristotle himself considered. But the claim, or at least the strong suggestion or implication on the part of modern scientists, that Darwin's theory is somehow different in character from Aristotle's "rational" or "philosophical" physics is false. Darwin didn't come to his theory by way of experimentation and falsification and all of that. He simply proposed an explanation designed to explain the appearances based upon principles he accepted as true, the same way Aristotle himself did.

So the argument isn't between moderns and ancients, or the enlightened and the benighted. It's an argument about the existence of final causes--an argument that is perfectly appropriate to science, inasmuch as it is first by observation of the things of sense that we come to an understanding of causation. Thus, it is in The Physics that Aristotle proves, or at the very least claims to prove, the existence of his four causes. But Biology is a species of Physics; that is, in the order of the sciences, Biology, the science of material being possessing life, falls under the genus Physics, the science of material being in general.

Now Darwin, either intentionally or simply as a matter of fact, takes as his principles those asserted by modern mathematical physics--for causes, he accepts only three: the material, the formal, and the efficient cause, or agent. That's fair enough, and his theory, at least superficially, seems to follow well enough from that. But now along comes ID, which does nothing more than claim to prove the existence of final causality from the evidence provided by material beings possessing life and rival biologists want to scream that such activity is outside the bounds of acceptability. Well, it's not. ID may or may not be a conclusive argument, but it's not outside the bounds of Biology, nor does it conclude to a creator.

The proof that it does not conclude to a creator is obvious: Aristotle, who affirmed the existence of final causes, did not, in the Physics (nor even in the Metaphysics), conclude that a creating God existed. Aristotle, for example, concluded that the universe was eternal, so he clearly did not believe in a God who created the world. He did necessarily affirm that some principle or principles existed that accounted for the nature of things, but it had to wait 15 centuries for St. Thomas Aquinas to prove--based upon Christian revelation, which was unavailable to Aristotle and is in any case accepted on faith--that that principle was the God of Abraham. Thus, even if some ID proponents do, on a personal level, identify the final causality which they assert exists with God or the gods or whatever, they do not do it qua Biologists; i.e. they do not do it within the science of Biology. Rival biologists therefore have no legitimate grounds on which to object to their argument (other than that they do not find it persuasive).

To further show that IDers not only don't, but can't, prove, nor claim to prove, the existence of God in their argument, one needs only look at the parallel case of evolutionists. Evolutionary biologists don't claim to disprove the existence of God in their assumption of only three causes, nor could they credibly do so. They--the honest ones, anyway--affirm that such conclusions, even if warranted, belong to a different science: either Theology or Metaphysics or both. But what's good for the goose is good for the gander. Thus, it is dishonest for evolution proponents to continue with their charges that IDers are "creationists" whose argument does not belong within the science of Biology. IDers may be wrong, and/or their argument may not be conclusive (as a matter of fact, it's not conclusive), but it's not by any means illegitimate.

   
Quote
And as far as evolution is concerned, itís inconceivable that we could be where we are in our understanding of biology if we didnít have evolution as a guiding intellectual tool.


I suppose it will fall upon deaf ears to point out that if our understanding of biology depends upon affirming the theory of evolution, and if that theory ultimately turns out to false, there can never have been any "understanding" of biology. Imagine if this guy were a contemporary of Ptolemy's and made the above remark with regard to Ptolemy's geocentric theory of the heavens, which "worked" but ultimately didn't reflect the actual organization of reality...would you be as enthusiastic for it then?

  
Richardthughes



Posts: 10756
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: May 06 2008,00:39   

*Scans for hypothesis*


Nope.

--------------
"Richardthughes, you magnificent bastard, I stand in awe of you..." : Arden Chatfield
"You magnificent bastard! " : Louis
"ATBC poster child", "I have to agree with Rich.." : DaveTard
"I bow to your superior skills" : deadman_932
"...it was Richardthughes making me lie in bed.." : Kristine

  
Zarquon



Posts: 71
Joined: Feb. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: May 06 2008,02:47   

Quote (jnewl @ May 06 2008,15:28)
Darwin didn't come to his theory by way of experimentation and falsification and all of that.

This is simply not true.

  
Reciprocating Bill



Posts: 4265
Joined: Oct. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: May 06 2008,06:56   

Quote (jnewl @ May 06 2008,01:28)
It depends upon what is meant by science...

Never mind that your characterization of Darwin's activity is inaccurate (he spent years researching animal husbandry and experimenting with plants in search of evidence that species were not fixed prior to publishing Origins). Your essay repeats many other creationist chestnuts. These include the equation of all evolutionary biology and associated disciplines (which includes many experimental activities) with Darwin's 19th century work, as well as the forced equation of scientific activity and laboratory experimentation. The plain fact is that there are empirical approaches to historical sciences other than laboratory experimentation that entail the essential activities of prediction and empirical test - e.g predictions that drive and are confirmed by fieldwork, such as those which yielded Tiktaalik.

But the entire thesis of your essay - that scientists deny to ID scientific status and scientific merit because it addresses final causes - is a bit of indirection. ID is not denied scientific status because of its focus upon "final causes." ID lacks scientific merit and scientific status because it gives rise to no meaningful empirical investigation (there is no research program in a Lakatosian sense) and, indeed, it is inherently incapable of giving rise to meaningful empirical investigation due to its abandonment of methodological naturalism. 15 years of hot air from the ID movement has yet to yield even a hopeful description of what an empirical program driven by ID might look like - a program that entails specific predictions of specificity sufficient to put its own hypotheses at risk. †

Wake us up when you've got that.

--------------
Myth: Something that never was true, and always will be.

"The truth will set you free. But not until it is finished with you."
- David Foster Wallace

"Here’s a clue. Snarky banalities are not a substitute for saying something intelligent. Write that down."
- Barry Arrington

  
Richard Simons



Posts: 425
Joined: Oct. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: May 06 2008,07:54   

Quote
Darwin didn't come to his theory by way of experimentation and falsification and all of that.

Once I read that I just scanned the rest. Someone who could write something that is so wrong is unlikely to have anything useful to say.

--------------
All sweeping statements are wrong.

  
Lou FCD



Posts: 5402
Joined: Jan. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: May 06 2008,08:04   

Quote (Richard Simons @ May 06 2008,08:54)
Quote
Darwin didn't come to his theory by way of experimentation and falsification and all of that.

Once I read that I just scanned the rest. Someone who could write something that is so wrong is unlikely to have anything useful to say.

He had me at

Quote
It depends upon what is meant by science.


--------------
Lou FCD is still in school, so we should only count him as a baby biologist. -carlsonjok -deprecated
I think I might love you. Don't tell Deadman -Wolfhound

Work-friendly photography
NSFW photography

   
Kristine



Posts: 3061
Joined: Sep. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: May 06 2008,09:36   

Bypassing the uninteresting, uninformed troll...
†  
Quote (Jason Spaceman @ April 28 2008,21:07)
Dan Greenberg, from the Chronicle of Higher Education, recently interviewed Bush's science adviser John Marburger. †Part of the interview touched on ID and evolution education:
Quote
Q. So, you voluntarily stepped forward to offer an explanation for this little remark that he made that was over-interpreted?

A. My statements about intelligent design are pretty straightforward. Itís not science and in no way should it be compared with science or discussed as a science topic. And as far as evolution is concerned, itís inconceivable that we could be where we are in our understanding of biology if we didnít have evolution as a guiding intellectual tool. So, I have no problems speaking about those things. Iím not trying to defend somethingóanyoneís belief on this or to attack it. But I donít think the president needs very much defending. This is not an issue that he has tried to make anything of.


I also read an interview with Marburger elsewhere - I cannot remember the source - in which he also simultaneously defended the President against the President's own statement "We should teach both evolution and ID so that people know what the controversy is about" and then stated that he was not defending the President against anything. To say something like
† †
Quote
I think that this administration has never been very visible on that issue. The president himself said as little as he could possibly say on it.

is like saying that Paul Wolfowitz was never very visible about the "candy and flowers" our troops were to receive in Iraq. Marburger, at this point, has lost my respect. I puzzled over his doublethink for a long time (which I now suspect he wants people to do so that he can have a good job after the President is out of office), but Rev. Barky just shrugged and said, "Hey, the guy probably has kids to put through college. It's no deeper than that. He's doing what he thinks he has to do to keep it together."

And hey, what I'm seeing in America - enabled by fundamentalist religion - is this cultivation of fear in men, an emasculation really, by the message "If you do not toe the line you are going to LOSE YOUR JOB! And then YOUR FAMILY will BE RUINED! You had better NOT SPEAK UP and be a GOOD TEAM PLAYER!" Etc. The Rolling Stone reporter who infiltrated one of those 3-day spiritual weekends called it the "ashamed to have a penis" attitude.

Bush is going to skate through to the end of his term, and Marburger will be there to the end, in order to get his income. He just doesn't have the guts to resign, as so many others in the Bush Administration did.

--------------
Which came first: the shimmy, or the hip?

AtBC Poet Laureate

"I happen to think that this prerequisite criterion of empirical evidence is itself not empirical." - Clive

"Damn you. This means a trip to the library. Again." -- fnxtr

  
skeptic



Posts: 1163
Joined: May 2006

(Permalink) Posted: May 07 2008,18:48   

The point that you, jnewl, make and at the same time miss is that Aristotle did not practice science in the modern sense.  He was a philosopher and in that same way ID represents a philosophy that posits a final cause but can not supply what is required by the scientific method beyond observation and theory, testing and confirmation/refutation.  Both biology and physics represent empirical science and while Darwin's theory was lacking in confirmation it was not up to him to write the final chapter.  The theory has survived on the basis of data since Origin and will continue to be tested scientifically until it ultimately fails and is replaced by a more accurate, more descriptive theory but still equally scientific.  ID fails as science because there is nothing testable beyond the theory and to continue to claim  so requires a blurring of the lines between philosophy and science.  A useless campaign, IMO, that results in junk science and meaningless philosophy.

  
skeptic



Posts: 1163
Joined: May 2006

(Permalink) Posted: May 07 2008,18:50   

Kristine,

Quote
And hey, what I'm seeing in America - enabled by fundamentalist religion - is this cultivation of fear in men, an emasculation really, by the message "If you do not toe the line you are going to LOSE YOUR JOB! And then YOUR FAMILY will BE RUINED! You had better NOT SPEAK UP and be a GOOD TEAM PLAYER!" Etc. The Rolling Stone reporter who infiltrated one of those 3-day spiritual weekends called it the "ashamed to have a penis" attitude.


what is the world are you talking about here?

  
UnMark



Posts: 97
Joined: Mar. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: May 07 2008,18:57   

WFT is "final cause?"  Analogous to "first cause?"

I'm with Lou. . . .

  
Kristine



Posts: 3061
Joined: Sep. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: May 09 2008,11:53   

Quote (skeptic @ May 07 2008,17:50)
Kristine,
Quote
And hey, what I'm seeing in America - enabled by fundamentalist religion - is this cultivation of fear in men, an emasculation really, by the message "If you do not toe the line you are going to LOSE YOUR JOB! And then YOUR FAMILY will BE RUINED! You had better NOT SPEAK UP and be a GOOD TEAM PLAYER!" Etc. The Rolling Stone reporter who infiltrated one of those 3-day spiritual weekends called it the "ashamed to have a penis" attitude.


what is the world are you talking about here?

You don't think men get the message of fear in this society, and that men like Marburger get corrupted by that? ("I've got kids and a mortgage..." etc.)

There's a very interesting article in the current issue of Seed by the British science advisor, who says that if Jack Marburger (he calls him "Jack") were to say the things that he, the British advisor, has been saying, Marburger would effectively be tendering his resignation.

I don't have the article at work and it's not online yet, so I'll post the quote when I get home.

Here's the Rolling Stone article.
† †  
Quote
I slunk in my seat, trying to look inconspicuous. My disguise was modeled on other men I'd seen in church ó pane glasses and the very gayest blue-and-white-striped Gap polo shirt I'd been able to find that afternoon. Buried on a clearance rack next to the underwear section in a nearby mall, the Gap shirt was one of those irritating throwbacks to the Meatballs/Seventies-summer-camp-geek look, but stripped of its sartorial irony, it really just screamed Friendless Loser! ó so I bought it without hesitation and tried to match it with that sheepish, ashamed-to-have-a-penis look I had seen so many other young men wearing in church. With the glasses and a slouch I hoped I was at least in the ballpark of what I thought I needed to look like, which was a slow-moving hulk of confused, shipwrecked masculinity, flailing for an Answer.

One of the implicit promises of the church is that following its program will restore to you your vigor, confidence and assertiveness, effecting, among other things, a marked and obvious physical transformation from crippled lost soul to hearty vessel of God. That's one of the reasons that it's so important for the pastors to look healthy, lusty and lustrous ó they're appearing as the "after" photo in the ongoing advertisement for the church wellness cure.

In these Southern churches there are few wizened old sages such as one might find among Catholic bishops or Russian startsi. Here your church leader is an athlete, a business dynamo, a champion eater with a bull's belly, outwardly a tireless heterosexual ó and if you want to know what a church beginner is supposed to look like, just make it the opposite of that. Show weakness, financial trouble, frustration with the opposite sex, and if you're overweight, be so unhealthily, and in a way that you're ashamed of. The fundamentalist formula is much less a journey from folly to wisdom than it is from weakness to strength. They don't want a near-complete personality that needs fine-tuning ó they want a human jellyfish, raw clay they can transform into a vigorous instrument of God.

It seems like a lot has changed from my youth-camp days, when church volunteers labored to keep rough-and-tumble boys (and girls like me) sit still and sing hymns.

--------------
Which came first: the shimmy, or the hip?

AtBC Poet Laureate

"I happen to think that this prerequisite criterion of empirical evidence is itself not empirical." - Clive

"Damn you. This means a trip to the library. Again." -- fnxtr

  
Kristine



Posts: 3061
Joined: Sep. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: May 09 2008,12:21   

(For the record, the whole "positive atheist" thing also makes me want to puke - and it's part of the same phenomenon, in my opinion, when taken too far. "I'm squeaky clean! Mainstream, just like everyone else!" Ugh. Something has happened, especially to a lot of American men, and I'm not sure what it is.)

--------------
Which came first: the shimmy, or the hip?

AtBC Poet Laureate

"I happen to think that this prerequisite criterion of empirical evidence is itself not empirical." - Clive

"Damn you. This means a trip to the library. Again." -- fnxtr

  
skeptic



Posts: 1163
Joined: May 2006

(Permalink) Posted: May 09 2008,18:07   

After reading that article that's just about the most ridiculous thing I've ever read.  There's really not that much that can be discussed rationally pertaining to that article but it is eye-opening to see the stereotyping and over-generalizations portrayed on both sides.

  
Kristine



Posts: 3061
Joined: Sep. 2006

(Permalink) Posted: May 12 2008,10:01   

Quote (skeptic @ May 09 2008,17:07)
After reading that article that's just about the most ridiculous thing I've ever read. †There's really not that much that can be discussed rationally pertaining to that article but it is eye-opening to see the stereotyping and over-generalizations portrayed on both sides.

Oh, sure. Completely implausible. ;)

--------------
Which came first: the shimmy, or the hip?

AtBC Poet Laureate

"I happen to think that this prerequisite criterion of empirical evidence is itself not empirical." - Clive

"Damn you. This means a trip to the library. Again." -- fnxtr

  
  14 replies since April 28 2008,22:07 < Next Oldest | Next Newest >  

    


Track this topic Email this topic Print this topic

[ Read the Board Rules ] | [Useful Links] | [Evolving Designs]