August 23, 2007
Baylor plays fair on ID-supporting research
Four years ago, distinguished professor of engineering Robert J.
Marks left his longtime position at a secular school to help Baylor
University achieve its aim: To become a top-tier research institution
without compromising its distinctly Christian worldview. But when Marks
recently created a lab dedicated to evolutionary informatics then
published his findings on a university website, some Baylorites didn't
Some members of the Baylor community took issue
with Marks' conclusions, which place limits on the scope of Darwinism
and offer scientific support for the theory of intelligent design.
These ID opponents, who remain unidentified, complained to Dean Ben
Kelley of the School of Engineering and Computer Science, who promptly
pulled the plug on Marks' lab and took down the accompanying website.
But Marks' story, so far, has a better ending than that of mathematician William Dembski
, whose Michael Polyani Center at Baylor also studied Intelligent Design. Find out here how Baylor handled Marks' case.
Posted by Lynn Vincent at August 23, 2007 07:27 AM
As I've said before, I think each university should set up a
department of mad science, and provide a few spots for mad scientists
to putter and see if they can destroy the world before the regular
scientists destroy the world.
The other thought I have on this topic is What kind of God would make it so difficult to detect His Handiwork?
Well, I have about seventy-eleven other thoughts. (No degree in
mathematics for me.) As I've said, there is little if any relationship
between intelligence and belief in religion or disbelief in religion.
There are lots if intelligent believers. There are lots of intelligence
atheists. The radical agnostics are kind of dumb, but at least they
know they are dumb and will admit it.
For that matter, perhaps God is a mad scientist.
Of course, people around here think that if there's a tiny, tiny,
tiny clue that Intelligent Design has some merit (just "if"--I don't
believe it for a second, but it doesn't bother me if Dembski putters
around with it), then it immediately proves that the Bible is inerrant,
and Jesus was born of a virgin and rose from the dead, etc., etc.)
I think that is known as the "Great Leap Forward" or something.
I predict that this thread should be good for 73 messages, each
dumber than the one before, although this will still be the dumbest one
Your mileage will show 0 on this trip.
Random - The other thought I have on this topic is What kind of God would make it so difficult to detect His Handiwork?
If God made Himself more obvious, that would effect the free will to
choose Him. It would also make faith much easier or harder, depending
on your definition of faith. I happen to think the balance of reasons
for/against belief in God is set pretty fairly. I'm not sure what
improvements you would make...
I'm crazy, but I'm not so crazy as to be running for the position of God. I don't know how the universe could be made better.
Which is not to say it's the best of all possible universes, as someone once noted.
One of the fun things about being an evangelical Christian, I guess, is that whatever you encounter you say That's the way it has to be. It wouldn't work any other way. Proves how smart God is and Right He is.
Wasn't it Einstein who said, "God does not play dice with the
universe"? Maybe He does, but it comes up 42 once in a while and
everyone cries, "It's a miracle!"
Best of all possible worlds
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The phrase "the best of all possible worlds" (French: le meilleur
des mondes possibles) was coined by the German philosopher Gottfried
Leibniz in his 1710 work Essais de Théodicée sur la bonté de Dieu, la
liberté de l'homme et l'origine du mal (Theodicy). It is the central
argument in Leibniz's theodicy, or his attempt to solve the problem of
Among his many philosophical interests and concerns, Leibniz took
on this question of theodicy: how, if God is good, omnipotent and
omniscient, do we account for the suffering and injustice that exists
in the world? Historically, the question has been answered with all
number of philosophical arguments, for example, by explaining away evil
or reconciling evil with good. For Leibniz, also of central concern
is the matter of reconciling human freedom (indeed, God's own freedom)
with the determinism inherent in his own theory of the universe.
Leibniz' solution casts God as a kind of "optimizer" of the
collection of all original possibilities: Since He is good and
omnipotent, and since He chose this world out of all possibilities,
this world must be good--in fact, this world is the best of all
On the one hand, this view might help us rationalize some of what
we experience: Imagine that all the world is made of good and evil. The
best possible world would have the most good and the least evil.
Courage is better than no courage. It might be observed, then, that
without evil to challenge us, there can be no courage. Since evil
brings out the best aspects of mankind evil is regarded as necessary.
So in creating this world God made some evil to make the best of all
possible worlds. On the other hand, the theory explains evil not by
denying it or even rationalizing it--but simply by declaring it to be
part of the optimum combination of elements that comprise the best
possible Godly choice.
Voltaire famously satirized this notion in his novel Candide, in
which Leibniz is represented by the eternally optimistic character Dr
Pangloss,, and indeed the idea fell almost entirely from favour with
philosophers after the 1755 Lisbon earthquake. It is, nevertheless,
quite debatable whether Voltaire's characterization fairly represented
#1 "The other thought I have on this topic is What kind of God would make it so difficult to detect His Handiwork?"
Interesting thought. Of course, if He did make everything, including us, then everything
is either His handiwork directly or made/done by those who are His
handiwork. And if there's nothing that doesn't have His "mark" on it,
directly or indirectly, how would we know what His "mark" looks like
when there's nothing that doesn't have it, to compare it to?
Not proof of anything, just a thought.
"One of the fun things about being an evangelical Christian, I
guess, is that whatever you encounter you say That's the way it has to
be. It wouldn't work any other way. Proves how smart God is and Right
As another great philosopher once said "in this life there are nothing but possibilities." (Lucas, Empire Records).
While I can see why you might think otherwise, I definitely don't
agree with that statement. I think God can do anything He wants, and
there are many possibilities to how this thing called life 'might'
My working theory is that God restrains Himself to allow choice and
faith. This has a lot of ramifications, and I don't claim to really
understand the full scope, but it does make a certain amount of sense
when you think about it. Anyway, that's another discussion.
I am fully aware that under some analyses, this seems a 'convenient'
theory, but I think that 'convenience' does not imply 'non-validity'.
Here's where we come down to the inherent subjectivity of our own
perceptions and the effectiveness of arguing about things that really
can't be proven one way or another. What I argue is intelligent design
is based on my premise that God exists, and can easily be argued
'convenient' based on the premise that He does not.
"To William Dembski, a friend of Marks and collaborator on his
informatics research, the move recalled a previous ID spat at Baylor in
2000 when opponents of the theory succeeded in derailing Dembski's
ID-advancing Michael Polanyi Center"
It is interesting to note that there is no scientific 'theory' of
Intelligent Design. Just a public relations wedge movement to
'revitalize culture by demolishing materialism'.
But, what do you expect from world. theory, shmeory. it's all the
same, just interpretations. pass the collection plate my postmodern
PS Jack, the leading talking heads in the ID movement equivocate
about the necessity of gods in the ID formulation. At some points, they
point out that the 'designer' need not even be supernatural (indeed,
natural selection fits the definition of 'intelligence'), at other
points they declare that ID is essentially 'logos, the gospel of John
the baptist'. You tell me if that is honest or consistent.
Kelley agreed that Marks was free to resume work in the
informatics lab on his own time and repost his website, provided a
disclaimer accompany any ID-advancing research to make clear that the
work does not represent the university's position.
To me this makes Baylor's goal -- "to become a top-tier research
institution without compromising its distinctly Christian worldview "
-- sound overly optimistic. If all Baylor professors believe in God's
creation, whether by direct or evolutionary means, why is there so much
distancing from ID?
The problem with the religious is they know so little about "science" they think "scientist" is a general-purpose term.
If someone who is an expert in math wants to teach biology, perhaps he should, oh, I don't know, STUDY biology first?
If someone who is an expert in, say, engineering and wants to teach
physiology, perhaps he should, oh, I don't know, STUDY physiology
first? Or would that make too much sense? Would that be too easy?
If they are SO distinguished in their own fields that they could
teach others scientists about their fields, why haven't I ever heard of
Jesus, protect our children from your followers.
Marvin, the 'distancing from ID' is likely because ID has not even
attempted the basic scientific program, instead opting for a public
relations movement outside of the scientific community. In the PR arena
they claim that they are a legitimate form of scientific inquiry, but
within their own ranks they can't even get enough articles to publish
their OWN journal (not to mention the Templeton Foundation being
willing to fund ID research but not receiving any proposals).
I would propose that faculty are wary of being involved with a
movement that has attempted to sidestep science and is closely tied
(funded, at least) to Howie Ahmanson and the Christian
Reconstructionism movement. Just a thought, you tell me.
Good comment, Pauline, in #4. It is interesting how two completely
divergent views emerge . . . Random says "What kind of God would make
it so difficult to detect his handiwork?" One view.
And yet I have the completely opposite view. His handiwork, His
presence (is there a difference?) is absolutely everywhere, sometimes
almost annoyingly - or terrifyingly - so, racing to greet me every
morning, shouting at me at noon, boxing my ears in the evening, and
troubling or soothing my dreams at night.
I get the mental picture of a group of visitors standing before a
magnificient painting in a museum. Some visitors earnestly look at the
painting but see nothing but swirled bits of color and flaking paint,
unevenly and imperfectly applied, interesting perhaps, but still
originating in meaninglessness and eventually sinking back into
meaninglessness. They make no connection to an Artist.
But some visitors look at the same painting and see a vision of
design and intelligence and the grandeur of intent and beauty; they see
soul and meaning and a destiny for all things beyond imagining. And
they wonder upon the Artist that could have created such a painting.
Of course the majority of visitors don't look at the painting at
all - they simply want to get out of the museum and get back home to
watch the sitcom or the ballgame on TV. To THAT group, I say "Bleah".
Your mileage will show 0 on this trip. -- Random Name #1
Good point, but it might be fun just to sit in the car, fool with the knobs, look out the window, and listen to the radio . . .
top-tier research institution
distinctly Christian worldview
evolutionary informatics lab
scientific support for the theory of intelligent design
ID opponents. . . complained
pulled the plug on the lab
resume work in the informatics lab
institutional purge of intelligent design
willingness . . . to respect
Going out of my head over that tune.
BTW, atheistic evolution and theistic evolution aren't different
kinds of science, as the Baylor provost seems to imply. They are
different ways of spinning science.
drill, it seems your argument returns to the merits of the ID
formulation (whilst dancing upon the fine line of po-mo relativism of
all interpretations being equal).
i really think that conspiracy theories and evilutionist atheist
materialist scientist fear(whore)mongering to explain why intelligent
design has failed is putting the cart before the horse.
ID has failed on its own lack of merit, a failure to advance any sort of scientific program.
Scroop is correct, it is a difference in the methods of spinning
science. Not an alternative method of doing science (as far as 'doing'
science, I noted above that IDists can't even get enough submissions to
print their own journal. Too busy making flash animations with fart
noises, I suppose). see me for links.
erasmus: Not sure about the dancing on the fine line of post-modern relativism of all interpretations being equal.
In my view (drawn from my own experience), the mere beginning of the
road is to see - to acknowledge - the grand pattern, the underlying
threads of reality - stitched by a Hand. If that acknowledgement is an
element of 'post-modernism', so be it.
However, the road ends - and ends only - at the Cross - and the
empty tomb, which are our visuals of something both wonderful and
terrible and complete that spans infinity and eternity. So, no, all
interpretations in my view are NOT equal.
I suspect, though, we are back on our well-worn track - on that point you would probably agree with me.
Glad to see you still posting. I have been absent much.
Some skeptics of religion believe there is a hereditary component to
religious belief. I suspect there is some truth to it, though it's part
of a much more complicated schema.
In any case, I don't find the universe numinous at all. Neither does
my wife. Neither does my daughter, though of course we "brainwashed"
her to be an atheist, as qwerty would point out, only he talks about
Christians brainwashing their children.
If it's genetic that I became a (very near) atheist, isn't that
God's fault that I don't believe? I think this has something to do with
Calvinism run amok, or running in reverse, but I'm not very good on
random i think that it is, instead of genetic, the null state to be
without gods. it's hard to understand how it could be heritable, unless
you mean in a broad sense where environment is more important than
drill i was responding to your analogy of the painting. i understand
that presupposing gods may lead one to your metaposition. in the
specific context of intelligent design, it seemed that you were
suggesting it was simply 'another view'. that may be, but it is not a
scientific view (not because of de facto limits on what science may
explore, but because of the utter abject failure of IDists to even
formulate a consistent consensus on what 'design' would entail).
good to see you back as well. will you be making the jump?
Erasmus: What do you mean by 'making the jump'?
I'm not sure what a numinous universe would/does look like. I've had
very few "religious experiences" myself, when the universe did look
numinous - at least that's the word that came to mind at them time,
because I had read what Rudolf Otto said about it - for a few minutes.
I suspect there is a sizable genetic component in being (or not
being) skeptical about claims (religious or otherwise) that are not
readily proved. I have a fair chunk of skepticism myself. But somehow I
am also religious. A bit of a tightrope walk sometimes.
I think one of the mistakes many people (both religious and
non-religious) make is thinking there is one way of being religious. I
wrote a poem several years ago, which I won't share here (mostly
because I can't find it - my writing folders got mislaid during one of
our moves), about "God-shaped holes." There's a saying (attributed to
Augustine, I think) that each of us has a God-shaped hole within us,
that only God can fill. But God made us with quite a variety of
different shapes on the "outside (not just physical appearance but also
personality, abilities, interests), so why should our "God-shaped
holes" all be the same shape? And God is infinite, and can fit quite a
number of different shapes. I'm not saying that anything you think of
as God is God, or that all religions lead to God. But some people's
religion is largely emotional, some people's is largely intellectual.
Some people's is largely about ideas, others it's largely about
practices. I think they all have a place, and it's good to try to learn
from other people's ways of experiencing/relating to/obeying God.
Again, I'm not saying "anything goes." But I have known Christians
from a wide variety of backgrounds, from very emotional Pentecostals to
very intellectual Presbyterians, very traditional Lutherans and
Baptists who are anything but traditional. Unfortunately some of them
think their way is the best way, if not the only way. And I often
wonder how many people turn away from Christianity because the only
"way" they have been exposed to is so foreign to their "way" of being.
FROM #11: theistic evolution
is a science like alchemy and astrology.
Let's assume God exists and is all-powerful, all-knowing, and
perfect goodness (although scientifically none of these have been
proven and are simply assumed by believers). Although I personally
wonder if any of those three are even possible.
Since God does not continually intercede in ways that mortals can
measure and does not provide significant evidence for his
existence(based on the number of non-christians in this world), then it
can be reasoned that God wants each of us to develop faith. Faith is a
central tenet of Christianity.
Why does God want billions of followers who will do as he asks with
very little evidence? If God is perfectly good, there must be some
greater good that is achieved by having people obey based on faith. How
does developing faith result in greater goodness than increasing our
understanding and knowledge? God could easily provide greater
understanding and greater knowledge. Instead this universe seems to be
a factory for us to develop greater faith.
Are there times when we want a child to obey us because we ask them
to, knowing they cannot understand the reasons? Are there times it is
better to help a child to understand the reasons, rather than force
them to obey blindly?
The first requires trust from the child. The second requires mental capabilities.
"evolutionary informatics lab"
As defined in the article - "the study of whether Darwinian
processes like random mutation and natural selection can generate new
information" - "evolutionary informatics" is not even a scientific
field. If by "information," they mean negative entropy (as in
information theory), this question is moot - Darwinian evolution
doesn't do this, since it operates in an open system with heavy energy
flow. If by "information" they mean something else (rather like
"phlogiston?"), we have yet to be told exactly what it is.
This guy may by "distinguished" in the area of engineering, but he's a dope wrt evolution/information theory, as is Dembski.
. . .provided a disclaimer accompany any ID-advancing research to
make clear that the work does not represent the university's position.
So, Baylor's position is that man was not intelligently designed? What a dumb disclaimer for an institution that purportedly believes in God and Jesus.
. . .given its commitment to Christian truth
Why are Christian reporters so reluctant to use the phrase "biblical
authority", instead of the watered-down "Christian truth"? Could it be
because they think the Bible doesn't really say what it means
or mean what it says? After all, what progressive Christian believes
"day" still means a 24-hour period in Genesis 1, what with the
mountains of evidence explained by the unverifiable just-so stories
from fallible scientists who weren't there and don't know everything?
"Of course the majority of visitors don't look at the painting
at all - they simply want to get out of the museum and get back home to
watch the sitcom or the ballgame on TV. To THAT group, I say "Bleah"."
Ahhh, you too easily the art that abounds in a 3-6-3 double play, a
two-out triple, or a nasty Johan Santana curveball for called 3rd
What kind of God would make it so difficult to detect His Handiwork?
I conclude that the Lord must be content with the percentages of
people who detect his handiwork, and the percentage of those who don't.
Otherwise, he would have configured us differently, or chose to more
openly reveal himself.
CCC do try to keep up. did you just awake from a nap?
'intelligent design' and 'Intelligent Design' are two different
things, apparently. the former is a metaphor for creationism and is not
denounced by Baylor. the latter is a PR scam that is premised upon the
misunderstanding (as you amply point out) of the former, and is the
formulation denounced by Baylor.
PS were you there when the constitution was signed? what then makes
you think it was, all you have is just-so stories from fallible
historians and purported witnesses. Go back to sleep now.
But Marks' story, so far, has a better ending than that of
mathematician William Dembski, whose Michael Polyani Center at Baylor
also studied Intelligent Design.
Interesting. I was not aware that there was any production whatever from that lab.
Could someone please provide a link to a paper? Even an abstract
will do, as I can get access to the full paper if I know where to find
Thanks in advance.
FROM #24: 'intelligent design' and 'Intelligent Design' are two different things, apparently.
Is that your way of saying ID presupposes id (not that you're predisposed to something so base as presupposing)?
CCC I'm sorry, I don't know what the heck you are talking about.
If you are asking 'is Intelligent Design' a form of creationism,
then the answer is yes. Cloaked in secrecy, shrouded in ambivalence,
masked by obfuscatory language and enshrined by acolytes. If you are
not asking that then again I don't have a clue as to what you are
PS Janiebelle, you should check out their most recent journal. http://www.iscid.org/pcid.php
#27 Thanks for the reference - I see that in Information as a Measure of Variation
Dembski makes up a new definition of information as "the change in
probability distribution associated with an ensemble of events" so that
he can do his error-ridden probability calculations and continue his
central thesis: "highly improbable = full of information = designed."
How many variations on one sour tune can this man make?? What a crock!
"How many variations on one sour tune can this man make?? "
ahhh, but that is his genius.
Pete Rowan said that when he rode the tour bus with Bill Monroe,
Monroe played the old standard fiddle tunes on his mandolin while they
travelled down the highway. On the bus, he played them in ways he never
performed them publicly, and never played them the same way twice. I
suspect this is what Dr Dr Dr Dr Dr Dr Dembski is trying to do. Except
it is a sour tune.
And Monroe was quite a pugilist and a healthy strapping lad. Dembski looks kinda frail. I bet my wife could whup him.
Anyone who says there is no evidence of God's handiwork has never
had a child or never watched a sunset or never observed snow in the
mountains or never gazed at the stars. If so, then they are willingly
ignorant of the obvious.
Erasmus on an adjacent thread says he sees transitional forms
outside of his window. He doesn't really, of course. What he actually
sees is living things all perfectly complete. He observes not a single
mutant life form, nothing partially formed, nothing that doesn't
function perfectly, but all is symmetric complete and beautiful. He
looks at all this and says, "Bah! It's all just a big chemical spill
and closes his mind to the truth of his own observation. His eye
whispers truth, but his mind plays games. He makes creation his
creator, mutation and disease his maker, yet where are these mutants?
The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work
of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night
they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their
voice is not heard. Ps 19:1
The fool says in his heart, "There is no God." Ps 14:1
Anyone who says there is no evidence of God's handiwork has never
had a child or never watched a sunset or never observed snow in the
mountains or never gazed at the stars. If so, then they are willingly
ignorant of the obvious.
Anyone who says creation is evidence of God's handiwork has never
seen death from genetic disease, hunger, birth defect, unjust physical
abuse, war, etc., etc., If so, then they are willingly ignorant of the
Dembski is one of the liars of the Discovery Institute, which
employs only fake scientists who have no moral values. The entire
income of the Discovery Institute comes from gullible creationists who
are happy to believe everything the Disco Institute says.
Dembski and the other Intelligent Design God Did It subhumans are in
it only for the easy money. They know they are liars. They know they
take quotes from real scientists out of context to distort their
meaning. They know creationists are gullible. They know every scientist
in the world knows they are liars, but they don't care. They got their
paychecks. They know they earn their money dishonestly but it sure
beats getting a real job.
Xion, go look up 'transitional form'. Nowhere will you find this defined as an incomplete organism.
Evidence of sunsets is evidence of sunsets. Some people think they
are hideous, i'm sure. I'm sure you are intelligent enough to
understand that this doesn't lead you to even a proof for god, much
less the meddling jealous bumbling deity you postulate.
you should pick a god that didn't have to cheat to whup jacob in a rasslin' match.
In fact, neither evolutionists nor creationists believe in transitional species.
To an evolutionist every species is actually a transitional species.
No organism exists independently without its pregenitors so it is one
solid continuum. While scientists classify organisms to promote order,
this is actually an artificial system.
To a creationist each species is independently created by God in that form.
Theo you seem to contradict yourself between sentence one and sentence two.
I don't know many creationists who still make the argument that
species are immutable. Not many, and most of them are here. Instead
most creationists have been forced to acknowledge that speciation is a
real phenomenon, probably as a logical consequence of squeezing the
square peg of Duh Flud into the round hole of biogeography paleontology
and geology. All them'ar evil sciences.
Erasmus - What you would expect to find in a continuum of evolving
species mutating from one form to another is a world full of mutants.
It would be a Star Wars kind of world with all sorts of bizarre
creatures with partially formed limbs, eyes that can't quite see, wings
that can't quite fly, etc. You don't see any of those things when you
look out your window. You have placed your faith in imagination, not
Xion, perhaps that is what you would expect to find. Or perhaps that
is what you expect someone to expect to find. But such an imaginary
land is not what is predicted by evolutionary theory (RM+NS) just your
caricature of it, which is not a scientific view but a religious one.
your expectations are just sophist projections.
Xion, did you see the article I have posted here a few times, "A dead dog lives on (inside a new dog)"?
Google "scienceblogs dead dog lives on", it's the first hit. it
appears that there are some weird things out there but of course they
aren't your wishful thinking half a wing examples. i wish that you
would get past your rhetorical analysis and come to terms with how
intelligent design creationism 'predictions' (used loosely when
discussing creationism) don't represent reality.