The essential humorous take on the evolution non-controversy has quickly passed into legendary status on the internet. Of course I’m speaking of the Flying Spaghetti Monster and its infinite creative unraveling as both parody and pastadigm. The Verganza site is worthy of any and all attention the reader with a sense of humor can deploy. Dig the emails and their growing revelations about the true magnitude of the noodlie mythologem.
…back in the unreal worldly…Sohel’s blog is silly but I discovered Benson College writing professor Leonard Rosen’s essay on it. Insipid is never good, but sometimes it can fuel entertaining “super insipidry”.
Here’s Rosen’s thoughtful (?) banal riff on the reconciliation of science and ID.
Biologists and intelligent designers may point to the same tiger, but because one asks how and the other why, they talk past each other. It’s a nondebate. And that’s what we can teach. Throughout history, into our own day, how and why — both, neither alone — have defined the human project. Nations that would be guided by one question, not both, usually make a mess of things. How has given us Einstein and Euclid; why, Virginia Woolf, Homer, Moses, and Mother Teresa. Have we not learned, even yet, to untangle these questions? They should be, and have ever been, debated endlessly, but never with much success in the same breath. We need both but must pursue each alone. At the end of life, no one wants another description of the tiger’s symmetry. We want what William Blake did: to know that those stripes, and our lives, are not accidents of matter colliding in the void. Until scientists, the masters of how, can give us that, we will ask why. There is no debate over intelligent design, only different ways of knowing and the mystery of tigers burning bright.
Rosen attracts the attention of Antonio Mendez. His reasoning is a flawed analysis of Rosen’s flaws.
Rosen suggests that it is impossible to have a debate concerning ID and EB because as he argues, ID seeks to answer why a natural phenomenon occurs whereas EB seeks to answer how. Rosen’s argument is logically flawed as it stems from two dependent assumptions. The first assumption is that ID is Creationism in disguise which leads to the second assumption which is that ID theories seek to answer why natural phenomenon exist as we observe them today rather than how they came to be.
This couldn’t be further from the truth. Evolutionary biologists are more likely to seek to answer questions such as why does a bengal tiger have stripes? What are their function? Do they help the tiger’s species survive? These are the answers that Darwinian natural selection lays claims to with respect to why one species survived over another through the ages.
Despite the fact that answers of why questions versus how questions are more complexly interrelated when it comes to seeking answers to natural questions than Leonard recognizes, ID does not seek to answer why questions any more than Creationism did. ID just like EB both seek to answer the questions of how we came to be. They study the origins of man and nature and both seek answers the question of how did we arrive where we are today.
Lordy, the designer seems to wire brains to sometimes think like this! Mendez will compound his mistakes deliciously–more on this is forthcoming.
Rosen makes the timeless appeal to understanding being partly a matter of subjective sense indirectly. But, the nonsensical indirection simply works to conceal the answer in the begged question: We want what William Blake did: to know that those stripes, and our lives, are not accidents of matter colliding in the void. The questions answers itself. There’s no spirit of inquiry ramified in the fallacies of Affirming the Consequent, and, Appeal to the Gallery, (implied via the royal ‘we,) and, possibly the Appeal to Authority (of William Blake). Although I could include the fallacy of Ignorant Conclusion and three or four others. This is how wholly rhetorical, albeit also ludicrous, and logically bare, Rosen’s logic is. Badly formed arguments often make it hard to extract a discrete fallacy even if they pile up into, as it is in Rosen’s case, upwards of half-a-dozen fallacies. (Rosen teaches writing at a business college! LOL)
Biological science addresses concrete questions by elucidating explanations which always approximate something about ‘how’ the ‘what’ of the biology works. One has to know, usually, much about the ‘what’ before tackling the ‘how the what’ works. Implicit in the discovery of the explanation given the frame of adaptative fitness is the analytic: that this is ‘why’ it works this way. Mendez misses the illogic of his move from interrelating how and why to ID just like EB both to, (backtracking,) ID does not seek to answer why questions. If how and why are interrelated then to seek either is to -likely- seek also this interrelatedness. But, nothing interesting comes out of this semantic flurry. It’s ‘freshmoric’ thinking.
Mendez’s deceptions are more likely intentional, and, are exhausted out of the box. So:
why natural phenomenon exist as we observe them today rather than how they came to be inscrutably follows from premises not present in Rosen’s illogic and premises not logical in Mendez’s argument. Mendez seems to reprise the standard old earth creationist trope about contemporary biologists not being around to observe past phenomena, but among many mistakes Mendez rolls into this bit of nonsense is his loading up the word ‘today’ as if it must be decisive, even if earlier he admits that Darwinian natural selection lays claims to with respect to why one species survived over another through the ages. Yet, since he will have biology and ID seeking answers about how we came to be, his dodgy string of particulars cannot break away valuable distinctions, or, unite similarities. He wants it both ways.
None of his argument drives securely to its payoff.
Consequently, we should emphasize what is known as much as what is unknown about any given subject in a classroom. If the students don’t know what is wrong with a theory, or what must be added for it to become a natural law, how are they going to develop that law? A problem cannot be solved until it is acknowledged. Therefore evolutionary biologists should acknowledge the ID debate on its merits and give the future generation of scientists a head start on discovery. Since ID only seeks to implement a sound method of education that covers all aspects of evolutionary biology rather than the current incomplete model, ID should more appropriately be called Intelligent Education.
Mendez implicitly, by not mentioning most of the following, boils completely away known features of the instrumental agenda of Intelligent Design. (To whit: ID is Creationism in disguise; it does seek to admit supernatural explanation into the discipline of science; it can only do this by allowing the metaphysical hidden hand to presumptively be explanatory; and this is concerned with the elevation of an anthropomorphic posit that requires methodological naturalism to be deposed.) Okay, forget all of this, for, finally, Mendez believes ID is well disposed to point out biology’s blind spots to biologists. He makes zero argument on behalf of ID being so disposed. If he could do so he wouldn’t be able to make a coherent argument, because ID hasn’t pointed out any gap in biological knowledge that biology doesn’t better know precisely because biology is elegantly disposed to understand what are its own shortfalls in knowledge. In fact, it is commonsense that this is one reason why biology is so darn effective. And, ID, for which potted explanation searches vainly for testable hypotheses, constitutes no effective displinary regime at all.
If the students don’t know what is wrong with a theory, or what must be added for it to become a natural law, how are they going to develop that law? is a stupifying argument tendered to highlight the obvious state of all scientific inquiries. He promotes the possibility of completeness, valorizes ID’s non-existent role in evolutionary biology, and thus proves he is philosophical piker. Funny: does he intend to be suggestive of the false premises supposing that biology is fatally undermined by being incomplete in the first place?
Mendez, here, has written among the most numbingly ignorant and illogic pseudo-treatises I have ever read. And, I’ve read a lot of jejune philosophy, for example. Philip Johnson, the paleo-philosopher king of ID sets the bar so low, that I can’t push Mendez’s philosophical dung to the bottom of the pile. Good for you, Mendez…saved by the gong.
Bollokar [OED] When we say of an Oration, Sermon, or any Discourse, that it is Jejune, we mean Sorry, paltry, and very dangerous stuff.